Tonawanda News — For the 24th straight year, people will line the shores of the Erie Canal, trying to catch a prize fish.
The Erie Canal Fishing Derby begins today.
The tournament area spans 50 miles down the canal, starting at the beginning of the canal in Tonawanda and ending near Albion.
According to Steve Harrington, tournament founder and coordinator, 900 people have already signed up for the derby.
"This derby is all about kids, getting them involved and about families bonding together," said Harrington.
The 12-day event consists of both tournament prizes and daily tagged fish prizes.
The total prize pool exceeds $20,000 in both money and merchandise, including an adult grand prize of a boat, motor and trailer and a youth grand prize of a new trail bike.
The tournament is split up into two divisions, youth (14 and under) and adults.
There are seven fish categories, including Bass, Walleye, Northern Pike, Bullhead, Carp, Sheephead and Catfish.
Winners are determined based on the weight of the fish caught. In addition to the normal prizes, contestants can also enter the Cash Bash.
This optional contest, which is $5 to join, guarantees 100 percent payout.
There are also 50 tagged fish contestants can catch for additional prizes. The top tagged fish is worth $2,500 in which a third of the payout goes to the angler, another third goes to the Wyndham Lawn Home and the final third goes to Mercy Flight.
The remaining tagged fish pay out $150 dollars in merchandise from area sponsors. The youth participant that brings in the biggest fish daily will also receive a merchandise prize.
Although the derby begins today, people can still sign up any day until the derby's completion.
You can enter the 2014 derby at any one of the following locations:
• Les Allen Live Bait, 350 Hawley St., Lockport (433-8983)
• Harrington’s, 7963 Telegraph Road, Gasport (425-8144 or 830-8434)