The management of New Hampshire’s Winni Derby is not mistrustful by nature, but they added a rule that would require top anglers to take a polygraph test. Now in its third decade, the Winni Derby is one of the state’s largest salmon and lake trout fishing competitions. Over $50,000 in prizes were awarded over the event’s three-day run on May 17 to 19, including a grand prize of $12,500 cash for the salmon division and $5,000 for lake trout. Last week anglers battled it out in Lake Winnipesaukee hoping to snag the large pot, but when the fish were laid out and measured the contestants faced another obstacle: the Crawford Polygraph Service.
According to the event’s website, officials have been receiving rumors that some past entries had not been caught from Lake Winnipesaukee. This had prompted officials to draft up rule #15 of the competition:
“All winners of any Grand or Major prize will be required to sign a sworn affidavit provided by the Derby. If requested, the participant and the witness agree to submit to a polygraph examination (lie detector) at a time and place determined by the Derby officials.”
“It’s just something we’re doing to make sure it’s a fair competition for everyone,” Coordinator Dianne LaBrie told The Union Leader.
So far officials had no evidence that there had been cheating involved, but the strength of the rumors have them concerned. Despite this, anglers showed up in record numbers.
“I’ve asked them for more tickets, I ran out of the first batch on Monday,” said A.J. Nute, who owns a local bait and tackle shop. “People seem to be up here fishing early this year; the fishing’s been good.”
The derby’s winners did not seem to mind taking the extra step either. Local angler Dakota Wright topped the salmon division with a 3.7-pound, 22.5-inch salmon. Raymond Combs of Vermont took the largest trout with a 7.68-pound, 28.25-inch lake trout.
The Winni Derby is organized by the Laconia Rotary Club with support by local businesses. Funds generated by the event go back to supporting the community as well as protecting the lake’s salmon fishery. Donations were also accepted to assist the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s initiative to improve the fishery’s salmon feed .