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Fishing derby aims to raise money for mental health

By Regis Phillips Feb 15, 2024 | 4:53 AM

A Family Day ice fishing tournament in Rothesay will raise money for mental health.

The fishing derby will occur at Renforth Wharf from noon to 4 p.m. on Feb. 19.

Tickets will be $10 for adults and $5 for kids, with the proceeds going to Gentle Path Counselling Services in Saint John.

“The money donated will go towards a local organization and be used to subsidize mental health services,” said Kelson Hilchie, the tournament chair.

Hilchie said he’s been a lifelong fan of fishing and, despite the cold climate, there are some amazing benefits when it comes to ice fishing.

“It’s great to be outside and a great sport, but the best part about ice fishing is that you’re in a shack or a hut and you’re with your friends or your family and it’s just a great time, whether you’re catching fish or just hanging out.”

Hilchie said two types of fish are normally caught at Renforth Wharf and the connecting Kennebecasis River: hake and smelt.

He decided to go with Smelt because of their close living habitat to the wharf and the easy accessibility tournament attendees will have to reach their shack or hut, compared to hake being further away from the wharf and not knowing how thick the ice will be.

“I was talking with another guy who also has a tournament on Family Day. The way Renforth works is, since it is tidal waters, you don’t need a fishing licence during the year, so that was a big reason why,” Hilchie added.

Kids and adults will have the chance to win prizes for the biggest smelt, second-biggest smelt, most smelt caught by weight, and the smallest smelt.

There will also be a BBQ, 50/50 draws, firewood for sale, and random prizes will be awarded throughout the tournament.

More information can be found by contacting Kelson Hilchie at 506-977-0908 or hilchiekelson@gmail.com.