LCI competitors brave rough waters - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

LCI competitors brave rough waters

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High winds and rough waters did not stop families from hitting Lake Champlain today to celebrate Father's Day at an annual fishing derby.

Boaters on Lake Champlain fought turbulent waves Sunday, but the strong winds didn't keep fishermen at bay. Andrew Bonanno was one of many competitors to hit the water for the 36th annual Lake Champlain International Father's Day Derby. 

"Today we've been fishing. It's tough. It's windy. It's really rough out there, so we're having a hard time fishing, but we're catching fish, so we're enjoying it," Bonanno said.

The three-day derby began Saturday. Weigh in stations are set up around the lake from North Hero to Whitehall, New York. For some  it's a great chance to spend time with family. "This is my third year doing it. Every year that I've done it, my father's been here, my sons have been here, so it's a little tradition that we've kind of brought on now," said Loren Bleau.

Jarred Merriam and his father also came out on Father's Day for the competition. They brought in a wide variety of fish to the weigh station at the Shelburne Shipyard. "Couple hours -- we've been just catching a lot of stuff like bowfin, bass, perch, anything really," he said.

The derby offers thousands of dollars worth of prizes. Part of the proceeds help Lake Champlain International's efforts to protect the lake. Fish are judged based on size, and they encourage anglers to keep them alive. "It's a point system based off length and weight, and if the fish is alive--it's better to have it alive so that we can release it," Bleau said.

Though most participants would love first place, Bonanno says he's just hoping to make it to the top 10.  I'm hoping I can catch another big fish, something that might place 10th. One to ten -- somewhere in there -- and maybe my teammates will help me out a little bit," he said.

But for many, the biggest reward is spending time with family on Father's Day. 

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