Mistissini means big rock in the Cree language, and that’s the inspiration for the name of the community’s annual fishing derby, which took place July 23-25.
This is a catch-and-release derby, meaning fish had to remain alive after they were weighed and until they were released in order to count. In other derbies suspicious minds questioned whether some participants had simply frozen a big one caught at another time and thawed it out for the competition.
No one we know would commit such a dastardly deed in Eeyou Istchee. However, the catch-and-release rules limited the fishing teams to the much smaller southern part of Lake Mistassini.
Friday was a nice day for fishing, while clouds, wind and occasional rain moved in over the second day. The last day of the derby started off with a thunderstorm and rain continued throughout the day.
We were thankful that no debates over cultural appropriation broke out at the derby when Team Indian & Cowboy were called to accept their prize money.
Here are the results for the Big Rock Derby 2021.
Daily biggest walleyes
Day 1: Team Chiiwetin 7.03 lbs,
Day 2: Team Miquelon 6.52 lbs
Day 3: Team Indian & Cowboy 5.40 lbs
Daily biggest pike
Day 1: Team Cini 23.58 lbs
Day 2: Team Black Dodgers 5.18 lbs
Day 3: Team Awesha 18.14 lbs
The Big Rock Fishing Derby was truly “big” with 74 teams and more than 200 individual participants.
“My bros are not only good hunters, but they are also good fishermen,” Stanley Saganash said of his teammates Jason Coonishish and Roderick Happyjack in a Facebook post. “I had fun competing with them and we are all made it top 6 in the Big Rock Derby.”
Added Saganash: “Teach your children how to hunt and how to fish and they shall prevail. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”