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A Nasty Start to Walleye Season

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As of right now, the forecast is calling for 20+mph winds, temperatures in the upper 30s, and a mixed bag of precipitation as the clock strikes midnight and walleye season begins again on Oneida Lake.  The good news for Saturday is that through the day, the temperature will move past the 40s and into the 50s as the day progresses.  The wind is also forecast to slowly die down during the day and the precipitation will move out as well.   Warmer Sunday with some early showers, we are keeping an eye on the wind again for Sunday.  Much more seasonable into next week, but definitely raw conditions over the next two days.

Unless you live under a rock, you probably know that the annual Chittenango Lions Club Walleye Derby is the big event this weekend on Oneida Lake.  Ticket sales are reported as strong and the derby kicks off at 12:01 am Saturday and ends at 3 pm Sunday.  The entry fee is $20.  The fish entered in the derby must be caught in Oneida Lake, its tributaries, or estuaries.  The full rules can be found here.

The derby pays out to the top twenty-five places provided at least 1,000 anglers sign up.  Assuming that number is reached, the longest fish pays $2,000; second place, $1,000, and third, $950.  If less than 1,000 anglers sign up, the prize money is pro-rated.  For reference, in 2019, 1,500 anglers participated–no tournament in 2020 on account of COVID.  The deadline to sign up is 11:59 pm on Friday.  Tickets can be purchased across the lake in many stores or online on the Chittenango Lions Club Walleye Derby website.

Additionally, anglers have a chance to win big bucks if they catch a tagged fish. Earlier this month, the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which stocks the lake, tagged three walleyes and released them into the lake.  The fish will have a derby value of $5,000, $2,500, or $1,250 during the course of the event.  The tag numbers and values will be disclosed on Saturday morning at Derby Headquarters, online, and at each of the lake’s six measuring stations.

Just two years ago, Bill McCracken won $5,000 in the 2019 Annual Walleye Fishing Derby on Oneida Lake for catching a tagged 18-inch walleye.  Entrants also get a raffle ticket that offers a chance to win a lifetime, New York State fishing license, along with $500, $250, and $100 prizes.
Derby headquarters is at Chapman Park in Bridgeport.  COVID protocols for masks and social distancing will be enforced at the derby headquarters and at the measuring stations.  There will be no in-person awards ceremony this year.  The ceremony will be a Facebook live event featured on the Chittenango Lions Walleye Derby on Oneida Lake Facebook page beginning at 4 p.m. Sunday.  An updated leader board will also be displayed on the Chittenango Lions Walleye Derby website.
Winning fish are based on length, in the event of a tie, weight, then girth, and finally, a flip of the coin will be used to determine the winner.  Fish must be alive when weighed and the angler with the longest fish measured at a weigh station each day can win up to $25; however, if that angler also wins a big prize, they will be ineligible for the $25.  Finally, the first, second, and third place winners must take a Truth Verification Test at derby headquarters between 3 and 4 pm on Sunday.  Failure to comply will result in a forfeiture of the prize and the entrant will be disqualified.
Best of luck to everyone competing.

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