Paul Pissuk

Paul Pissuk of Rankin Inlet holds up a first place winner in the Kivalliq Fishing Derby in 2010. (Paul Pissuk/Facebook)

The annual fishing derby in Arviat, Nunavut, is set to pay out $39,000 in prizes for the biggest trout and pike caught within 160 kilometres of the hamlet on the west coast of Hudson Bay.

And nearby Rankin Inlet will offer $34,000 in prizes for trout and cod caught in an 80-kilometre radius of the community over the next three days.

Both events usually take place over the Victoria Day long weekend, but this year, Rankin Inlet organizer David Clark says there’s not enough snow to travel on the land, and whatever snow is still on the ground is melting fast.

“With the way the weather has been over the last three weeks and with the amount of snow we have out on the land the rec committee and myself decided to move it to this weekend.”

It’s not unusual to see huge prize money at a Nunavut fishing derby.

Last May, the grand prize winner of a fishing derby in Arviat, pop. 2400, took home $12,000. But when it turned out someone had caught a slightly longer fish, organizers agreed to offer another $12,000 to the actual winner. In all, the committee gave out $38,000.

The previous year, people from all over Nunavut travelled to Arviat to vie for a grand prize of $18,000 and an ATV. The local health centre also held a sculpin fishing derby, offering another ATV as a prize.

In Whale Cove, Nunavut, that year, the grand prize was $10,000 and in Hall Beach, it was $4,000.

The prize money is raised through bingos held in the community.

“It’s really the only way to raise any kind of money, or decent money anyway,” says Arviat’s derby organizer, Ryan St. John.

The Arviat fishing derby will pay out prizes to the top ten winners this year, with a grand prize of $10,000.

They’re also offering four prizes of $200 each for the best photo.