| May 29, 2019

Many fisherfolk in the area may have thought it was too wet and rainy to go fishing last Saturday, but the weather didn’t faze the 27 blind anglers and their 16 pro guides from venturing out on Kennebec Lake for the 31st annual Blind Anglers International Tournament (B.A.I.T.). This was the second consecutive year it’s been held at Springwood Cottages on Kennebec Lake, and organizers said they plan to return for next year’s tournament.

“This was our second year here, but we’ve still got some wrinkles to work out so we’re going to do it again next year,” said tournament chair Paul Riddell. The tournament is hosted by the Stittsville Lions Club.

This year, the top prize, Catch of the Day, went to Martin Collicott, an “American by birth but from Orleans now,” for a total weight of 12 pounds, including a seven-pound pike.

His guide, Ottawa’s Scott Campbell, representing AIM Marine, said the lunker pike was caught on a No. 3 Mepps.

“It was windy and wet and the best fishing ever,” said Collicott. “Scott was really good at picking spots.

“I’ve only missed three of these tournaments since 2000.”

Collicott said that being a Maritimer, being on the water is second nature to him.

“I grew up catching brook trout,” he said. “But when my eyes went south I kinda missed all that.

“This tournament is a good chance to get all that back.”

He said this was his first Catch of the Day win.

“It’s my second trophy though,” he said. “I did win biggest walleye one year and I had a big pike in the boat but lost it when we tried to get a picture.

“This pike is the biggest fish that never got away.”

Mike Thompson from Eganville shared the boat with Collicott and Campbell.

“I’ve been in about 20 of these, including that one time with Catch of the Day,” he said. “I always have a good time.”

And so do the guides.

“It’s such a fun day,” said pro Bob Boyer. “I’ll do it til the day I die.”

One of the biggest laughs of the day was provided by Coun. Tom Dewey, who brought greetings on behalf of Central Frontenac Township.

With the rain coming down outside, Dewey said in all seriousness: “It’s apparent to me that the anglers participating in this tournament look forward to this very special experience, whether they are catching a fish, or just sitting in the boat with the warm sun rays embracing their face,” at which point his wife Shirley reminded him it had been pouring rain all day, to the delight of the laughing crowd.

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