Many anglers may not have heard of this week's angler, Derick Brooks, until this year's Kap Walleye Tournament where he and his partner, Guy Laberge, won the tournament in early August.
Over the last five years, Derick has been very consistent in the NOWT events he has competed in, finishing in the Top 25 in all of the events he has entered.
With his first win, I decided to reach out to him so we could learn a little more about his journey in fishing and why he decided to throw his hat into fishing the Northern Ontario Walleye Trail.
I am happy to introduce this week's angler, Derick Brooks.
Q) Where were you born?
A) Opasatika, a small town 20 minutes west of Kapuskasing.
Q) Who played a role in getting you started in fishing?
A) My parents played a huge role in getting me hooked on fishing. As a kid, my dad would bring me fishing everywhere and in all conditions. I remember a fishing trip in the winter on Onamen Lake, where Dad and I took turns running in the trail to stay warm in -40 temperatures. I was also fortunate to have many relatives who liked fishing and brought me out several times.
Q) As a youth, where did you fish and for what?
A) I would often fish the Opasatika River in the summer with my cousin Hugo. We'd leave a canoe at the dock and we made a trailer behind a pedal bike to bring the bait and gear back every night. We would spend days fishing for pike, walleye and perch. I've also spent countless hours fishing the Kap river from shore with a cousin named Denis, sometimes when we could hitch a ride, we'd be spoiled and take his 14 foot aluminum boat with a 15hp motor. On the Kap river, we'd target walleye in hopes of limiting out. I also enjoyed the weekends on my parents pontoon. The pontoon was setup so we could sleep and eat on it and for my brother and I, it meant we could fish and swim anytime we wanted for a whole weekend. you just can't get better than that as a kid.
Q) What age did you start fishing?
A) As young as I can remember. I'd guess approximately age three.
Q) How did you get into walleye tournament fishing and why?
A) My friend Kevin Robineau had asked me to fish the Kap River Walleye Tournament with him. His boat motor blew the week before the tournament, so we borrowed a 14-footer for the tournament. We lost all our fish mid day on day one when the live well stopped working. We had a lot go wrong that weekend but regardless, I was hooked. I wanted to try again, hoping that one day I'd be the one to out fish the competition. I've always been competitive and fishing as always been my favourite pass time. Fishing the NOWT gives me the ability to do both, in addition I get to meet and spend time with good people.
Q) What was your most memorial fishing experience and why?
A) I would have to say, winning the Kap River Walleye Tournament. We could not make a wrong decision. My partner Guy Laberge got the biggest fish of his life on day one and I got the biggest fish that I've ever caught during a tournament on day two. Our family and friends were at the scale for the final weigh-in, waiting to see what we had. Hearing the burst of excitement when I pulled out the seven-pound walleye from the live well, was a moment I will never forget. Winning at home and seeing the whole family enjoy the win, it was perfect.
Q) List any anglers that helped you learn more about fishing over the years.
A) The list is long as I've had many friends and family teach me over the years. In the tournament world, I can say Dany Hein and Didier Germain have helped me since day one. I've also learned fishing with different partners over the years. Miguel Tailleur, Kevin Robineau, Luc Audet, Paul Godin, Dave Lepage, my father-in-law Mark Hall and my dad all showed me different things that improved me as an angler. My current partner Guy Laberge and I feed off each other to improve as anglers, he taught me to stay positive and be confident right until the last minute of the tournaments.
Q) List sponsors and tournament finishes.
A) I'm very fortunate to have sponsors like Val Albert Motors, Super 8 Hotel, The Cache Campground, Quality Food Hampers, Dufour Waste Disposal, Les Boys Sport and K&G Logging. These people support us every time we go on the water. Some of my best finishes are first, forth, fifth and seventh in the Kap River walleye, third in the Geraldton walleye Classic, ninth and 10th in Sagamok. I'm proud to say that our consistency has improved in the last five years and out of the last 15 tournaments, I believe we have only mist out on the top 25 four times.
Q) Who have been biggest fishing supports over the years?
A) My family has definitely been my No. 1 fan. They support me in everything I do. My wife is the main reason I can fish tournaments. She takes care of everything when I leave, including our four kids, who sometimes demand a lot of energy.
Q) What are some of your favourite fish you like to fish for and why?
A) Walleye are my favourite to target. Some days it is quite the challenge to catch them and for me that is when the competition starts. I never want to leave until I have figured them out. I also enjoy fishing Brook Trout. They fight hard and are always tasty.
Q) What is your favourite fishing technique(s) for walleye?
A) I can't really say I have one. Years ago, I would have said bottom bouncing but I've since committed to learning as many techniques as I can and to be confident when I fish them. That is probably the best decision I've ever made to help me be more consistent.
Q) Why do you fish walleye tournaments?
A) I like the challenge and friendly competition. You learn everyday on the water. When I first started tournament fishing, I had days where I was doing so bad that I thought there was no way someone would catch a big bag. Boy was I wrong. You'll always have a team who figured them out, but that taught me that I needed to learn more, work harder and that the fish will always bite something. Also, I've met so many good people fishing tournaments. I'm always eager to fish the first tournament of the year after our long winters, not only because I get to spend time in my boat but I also get to catch up with friends that I have not seen for eight to nine months.
Q) Why did you agree to have your bio done?
A) The bio gave me a chance to reflect on where it all started and it gives me an opportunity to recognize the people who had an influence on getting me where I am as an angler. I also hope that It can help convince other anglers to try tournament fishing. It really is a blast.
Q) Any tips you would give to a new walleye angler looking at fishing the NOWT?
A) Get familiar with as many techniques as you can and know your electronics. They don't need to be the most expensive electronics but you should spend time learning them. Always keep a positive attitude, be confident and fish with a partner that you know will enjoy the weekend as much as you, no matter where you finish in the rankings. Don't be intimidated by the top anglers or the big rigs, they are all anglers who started out the same way. Respect everyone and most important, have fun.
Q) What would be some of your greatest accomplishes over the years of fishing?
A) Winning the Kap River Walleye tournament with my brother in-law Guy Laberge. Fishing with Eric Duguay and Miguel Tailleur, Catching 15 overs in one day and having 12 of those overs over six pounds. Organizing a kids' tournament at Remi Lake. I really need to do this again in the future. It was fun event where we taught kids how to tie spinners and we also gave some kids who had never fished before, an opportunity to go out on the water a catch a fish.
I would like to thank Derick for taking the time to answer these questions after capturing his first win on the Kap River Walleye Tournament.
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