A teenage angler from Ste. Anne was the grand prize winner over the weekend at Falcon Lake. 

The 19th annual Falcon Lake Winter Fish-Off took place Saturday. And, 13-year-old Ethan Marynowski from Ste. Anne reeled in the heaviest fish, weighing in at 15.56 pounds. 

With that catch, Marynowski took home a cool $15,000 in cash. 

"Buy a truck and then put the rest in the bank," says the teenager, when asked what he plans to do with the windfall. 

For Marynowski, it was the first fish he ever caught at a derby. The young angler also won an ice fishing shack for a second fish he caught, weighing 3.62 pounds. 

Ian Young is a spokesperson for the annual fish-off. He has high praise for Marynowski's catch.

"It was a beautiful fish too, a legit Manitoba master angler 15-pounder," says Young. "Bringing those things up through an eight-inch hole when you have people fishing all around you 15 feet apart, easy potential to tangle lines, it's not automatic. So, he did a great job and congratulations to him."

Young says this was one of the toughest fish-offs they have ever put on. He notes strong winds Friday night and Saturday morning knocked down their fences, left their weight tent in shambles, and blew away their porta potties. However, he says everybody still came out and not a single complaint was heard. In the end, they gave away $70,000 in cash and prizes. 

"Overall, we all had fun," he says. "So, I'm pretty pumped about it."

Once again, the event is a fundraiser for the St. Amant Foundation. Since 2014, the Falcon Lake Winter Fish-Off has helped raise more than $100,000 for autism programs at St. Amant. 

Young says pulling off the event is possible thanks to the entire community of Falcon Lake and their incredible volunteers. He notes though it is stressful, the reason he keeps giving his time to this event is because of the money they can raise for the St. Amant Foundation and the reaction from participants.

"People are constantly telling me how they love this event, want to come back to it," says Young. "It's their boys' weekend or their family get-together or something that they look forward to all year and that's why I keep doing it."

Kris Chaudouet caught the fish closest to the hidden weight (Golden West).Kris Chaudouet

Meanwhile, Kris Chaudouet from the Lorette area caught the fish closest to the hidden weight. Chaudouet caught a 4.45-pound Jack, while the hidden weight was 4.47 pounds. His catch earned him a $6,500 LiveScope. 

"It almost got off right at the top of the hole, but we just got it out before it popped off the hook," says Chaudouet, describing his catch.

He notes in 15 years of derbies, this was the first fish he ever caught. 

"Wow," he says. "Unbelievable."


With files from Corny Rempel