Throughout the summer months, Eeyou Istchee’s many fishing derbies are the talk of the towns as the Cree nation’s finest fishermen set out to compete against some of the fishing world’s big names.

20140810_092146_0Last year’s winner of the Wemindji Fishing Derby, Jeremy Jolly, claimed the grand prize of a 2013 Dodge Ram. He sat down with the Nation to discuss his love of fishing – and his brother Tyson Gull’s big win of a 2014 Dodge Ram 1500 at this year’s Wemindji Derby.

Jolly passion as a fisherman began early in his youth. “I was eight years old and I went down the road about a kilometre away from Waswanipi and got my first fish,” said Jolly.

“My dad said that there is trout there; I see speckled bubbles and so he lent me his rod that he was fixing and right off the bat he cast with a spoon and I got a 10-inch speckled brook trout. It was about 1-2 pounds but when I was small it was big to me.”

Jolly said he grew up watching the likes of Alfred Jolly and Ronnie Ottereyes winning local and professional derbies and racking up prize loot, including fancy fish-finders and boats. It became Jolly’s dream to follow in their footsteps. It meant a lot to him when he finally could compete against them.

Jolly said he has placed in the Top 10 over the last eight years at the local Waswanipi tournament. When he placed first in Wemindji last year it made his dream to win the Waswanipi Old Post Derby title all the more realistic. He was also in the same boat with his brother this year as Tyson won first place.

fishing-2014-derby“I couldn’t really do my own thing on the second day (of the tournament) this year since I was taking care of the fish finder. I felt them, caught them, and felt them eating the bait. It was my bro who was the one on the side with the longer rod and longer line. I told him to fish there and he had a big bite. He wound up catching a 5.3, a 4.13 and a 4.2-pounder. He was in the top ranks,” said Jolly.

Jolly said that he partnered with his brother this year though he has had other partners for competitive fishing. He also spoke about his “walleye team” with Ian Langley.

“We call him the Ian-genius because he knows just about every knot in the whole world. In the walleye fishing tournament there are different tactics and different knots for catching walleye. There is not only jigs and spinners and this and that, there are other ways to fish and there are other ways to tie the knots and how to fish rapellas and fish bottom bouncers, how to wiggle your worm more often, how to fish with slow dead rigs,” said Jolly.

But, when it comes to winning on a team, Jolly said teamwork is what makes the big catches and helps when it comes to getting the top rank quotas.

Jolly is hoping to start a guiding business and eventually get sponsored for the really big fishing derbies.


Here are results from a few of the derbies held this year in Eeyou Istchee.

Waswanipi Old Post Fishing Derby 2014

Walleye Category – Top 10

1st place Patrick Forgues 168.12 – Ford F150 truck
2nd place Jeremy Jolly 155.00 – 4-wheeler
3rd place Didier Germain 144.54 – $5000
4th place Austin Saganash 142.46 – generator
5th place Simon Lafreniere 142.04 – fish finder
6th place Don Saganash Jr. 139.38 – iPad
7th place Joey Blacksmith 138.58 – chainsaw
8th place Dennis Blacksmith 138.20 – free derby registration 2015
9th place Eddie Happyjack Jr. 136.45 – rainsuit
10th place Christina Ottereyes 135.09 – tent

Pike Category – Top 5

1st place Gaston Cooper 64.08 – boat, motor & trailer 115 hp
2nd place Gilbert Georgekish 63.15 – $5000
3rd place Daniel Georgekish 61.65 – Apple laptop
4th place Lawrence Petawabano 61.63 – GPS
5th place Charlie Bosum 61.12 – fishing tackle

367 total participants

Big Rock Fishing Derby 2014, Mistissini

Walleye Combined (3-day total)

1. Claude Cooper 20.26 ($23,000)
2. Ginette Laberge 18.11 ($13,000 + $1,000)
3. Eric Menard 17.39 (boat & motor 15hp)
4. Theresa Iserhoff 15.68 (16′ canoe)
5. Leslie Mianscum 15.26 (electric motor & fish finder)
6. Stephane Fortin 14.42 (generator)
7. Patrick Larouche 14.07 (fishing gear)
8. Stanley Saganash 13.95 (propane stove)
9. Howard Blacksmith 13.81 (chainsaw 18″)
10. Ian Langdon 13.68 (barbecue set)

Pike Category

1. Sandy Matoush 20.53 ($1000 + $1000)
2. Howard Blacksmith 18.6 ($750)
3. John S. Matoush 16.28 ($500)

Wemindji Walleye Tournament

Place – Name – 3 Day Score

1 – Tyson Gull – 341.76
2 – Christian Gilbert – 335.29
3 – Germain Didier – 328.44
4 – Lynn Nottaway – 316.87
5 – Ronnie Ottereyes – 307.79
6 – Rene Picard – 303.96
7 – Weja Neacappo – 298.64
8 – Howard Blacksmith – 294.66
9 – Den Hein – 294.3
10 – Johnny Awashish – 284.06