SnoSpree brings back the Ice Fishing Derby
It was a tremendous return of the ice fishing derby to Pembroke’s SnoSpree on Sunday.
More than 90 kids ages 15 and under set up camp on the pack ice around the city’s marina to try out the time-honoured winter sport. This was the first kids-only ice fishing derby for the carnival sponsored and hosted by the Pembroke Professional Fire Fighters Association.
While temperatures were cool, fortunately the winds off the Ottawa River were light. Organizers were overwhelmed by the positive response of the public anticipating only 30 to 40 kids registering.
“This is well beyond belief,” said Pembroke Professional Firefighters' Association president Darrell Andrews. “We love doing this for the community and we wanted to do something for SnowSpree. It’s a perfect event for us to put on for the kids.”
The city had approached the association about putting on the derby which Andrews added provides another draw for SnoSpree. Nearby the annual Polar Bear Dip in support of Pembroke and Laurentian Valley Handi-Bus took place, however, the jumpers did not appear to scared away the fish.
Tyler Elliott won first prize for the heaviest fish caught at the derby reeling in a six-pound sturgeon. The 10-year-old student from Rockwood Public School was employing a tip-up, a mechanical device suspends lines underneath the ice. The tip-up dangles a spool of line and hook beneath the hole. When a fish strikes the bait and moves off, the submerged spool spins, tripping a small, pop-up flag above the ice. Tyler said he immediately began reeling the line in when he saw the flag pop up signaling the bite.
“I was really excited when I saw that it was humungous,” he said.
The second place prize went to Gage Corriveau, who landed a three-pound, 11-ounce lake whitefish, while the third place prize was awarded to Antoni Staniewicz, who caught a three-pound, nine-ounce pike. The mystery weight prize went to Bryson Levean for his three-pound, two-ounce pike.
While conditions were fair, some of the veteran ice-fishers struggled to bring in one catch. Connor Clayton, 13, from Highview Public School, had a bite but in the end the fish won the battle.
“It took my bait and ran,” said Connor. “It was a strong one.”
It was also a discouraging day for 15-year-old Gabe Street, from Fellowes High School. He once landed a 16-pound pike during an ice fishing expedition on the Ottawa River, however, during the derby he was coming up empty.
“I didn’t get a single bite,” he explained. “It’s been very strange.”
The event was sponsored by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, who donated some of the prizes and items for gift bags that the firefighters handed out to the participants. Bait for the lures were courtesy of Allan’s Bait and Tackle. The association also provided a hot dog and hot chocolate lunch, as well as ice fishing rods for those kids who didn’t have one. Andrews also thanked the City of Pembroke Operations Department for clearing the site in advance of the four-hour derby.