All things were going according to plan as we entered Sibbald Point Provincial Park right on time, signed in and chose our spot out on the ice an hour before the competition was to commence. That was about as far as the plan got! Conditions for the day were extreme...with the temperatures hovering around freezing, four inches of slush and standing water atop the ice, and a sustained SW wind at 40mph with gusts over 60mph. We watched over 200 teams file out onto the slush with most moving toward the far outer corners of the boundary, rooster tails of spray flying from their snow machines. A few hapless soles tried to erect portable huts, only to have them snatched away by the winds, bouncing them across the ice like a lost balloon at a backyard party.
At 8am we all drilled our holes and a minute after my first drop I retrieved a fat female perch of about 10 inches. With five hours left in the derby I was confident 9 more fish like this would put us in the money...It was just that easy! An hour later and I'd marked absolutely nothing on the sonar in the dozen holes I was working. Fortunately no one else within sight was catching anything either. Finally I found a school of fish and quickly filled the bucket with our 10 fish limit, unconcerned about their size, just happy to have ten and the chance to cull if necessary.
By 10:30 Tackle Shop had caught his first fish of the day and culled a 6 incher from the bucket. There came word that the lake's ice was breaking up a few miles to the west at Jackson's Point from a few competitors on ATVs. It seemed the whole competition moved a little to the right all at one time. TS and I started to slowly make our way back to the launch area, taking advantage of the hundreds of holes along the way, picking off a
solitary fish here and there but never finding anything big enough to replace the dinks in the bucket.
|right size...wrong species|
Around noon we joined the steady trickle of anglers heading off the ice, tired of the beating the wind and the lake had laid upon us, and lined up for the weigh in. Already one team had weighed 6.9lbs for their ten fish and the largest single fish was 1.3lbs and there was still an hour left in the derby! Our total weight was 2.3lbs and after talking to many teams who came in empty handed, I believe we still placed well. It was an interesting day but one I have no wish to repeat...friendly competition for bragging rights is one thing...but entry fees and big prizes change the stakes and, at least for me, turns what should be fun into business. Next year I think I'll just sponsor a team and go out on the ice for the pure joy of fishing!
For a list of the top ten winners and some videos, go to: Perchin for MS