Winni Derby winner says he caught salmon off Welch's Island
GILFORD - A 17-year-old Bishop Brady High School junior from Laconia was named the "victor apparent" of the $12,500 grand prize in the Winni Derby Sunday, having caught the largest salmon of the tournament off of Welch's Island Saturday.
But Dakota Wright won't be named the official winner until he passes a polygraph test to verify that he caught the fish in Lake Winnipesaukee, according to derby official Michael Moriarity.
Derby officials weren't sure Sunday when they will administer the lie detector test. Wright was given a prize hat and the cash prize voucher, as were the other winners and their prizes.
"We feel pretty strongly that he is our winner," Moriarity said. "We haven't talked about when the test will be done, but it will be soon."
Derby officials decided to enforce Rule 15 of their bylaws, which requires a polygraph test for the winner "and his or her witness," this year. The rule only applies to the derby's top prize, which goes to the angler who catches the largest salmon from Winnipesaukee during the three-day tournament. The derby also awards smaller prizes for the largest trout caught.
The lie detector rule hasn't been used in the past. Derby officials made the change this year because of widespread rumors of cheating in recent derbies, though they have no proof that anyone has actually cheated.
"Due to the rumors and information on some of the fishing blogs," officials said on the derby's website, "there has been a raised awareness that the possibility of some of the past entries for Landlocked Salmon entered were not fished from Lake Winnipesaukee."
Diane LaBrie, derby chairman, said enforcing the rule will make sure the derby is run fairly.
Wright, who said he will use the $12,500 prize money to buy himself a new truck, said he will have no problem taking the test.
"I caught the fish off of Welch's Island on Saturday," he said. "I'll take the test, I don't mind."
Wright's fish was a 22.5-inch, 3.7-pound salmon. Boscawen's Paul Vachon won a cash prize for coming in third in the salmon category.
Finishing first in the Junior Salmon Angler Division was 11-year-old Christopher Gelinas of Loudon, who won a 14-foot Alumacraft boat and a trailer for landing a 3.08-pound, 20.675-inch salmon. Hunter Duval, 9, of Merrimack took second place with a 2.9-pound, 21.875-inch salmon, and Trevor Brennan, 6, of Rochester came in third with a 2.8-pound, 20.375-inch salmon.
Gelinas said he's caught bigger salmon in the past at the Winni Derby. But this year's derby had a slow start because of windy weather, and anglers said the salmon weren't as large as usual this year. Fish and Game officials said the larger salmon in the lake may have already been caught.
He wasn't sure what he was going to do with his new boat.
"This is crazy," he said. "This wasn't even my best derby."
Anglers from Vermont and Maine took four of the first five prizes in the trout category, but Norm Lemire of Jaffrey took fourth place with a 4.88-pound, 25.125-inch trout.
The derby is run by the Laconia Rotary Club.