Winterfest

I’m not really one for organized events and you won’t ever likely see me involved in any type of group activity, but this weekend in Elliot Lake is known as Winterfest.  There are a number of activities taking place throughout the weekend but the Fishing Derby is probably the big draw for most people.  With a first prize of $21,000.  and an entry fee of $100. per hole, it’s the big money event of the winter season, so I thought that I would take a look at the action on Horne Lake today.

First of all, I think that the odds of this being a sunny day for the derby were actually much more remote than the odds of winning the derby, given the fact that sunny days this winter have been so few.  However, it did turn out to be a perfect day for an ice fishing derby, cold and sunny, although there was a moderate breeze, so sitting beside a hole in the ice for three hours might not be as fun as some would have liked it to be.

I got my first glimpse of the action on the ice while walking down Hillside Dr. North.  Looks like a good turn-out.

All the entrants were placed in straight lines across a predetermined area on the lake, so this would tend to rule out any advantage to those who might know the more productive fishing areas of Horne Lake.

I noticed that they had quite a few officials placed all around the fishing area, ready to authenticate any possible catches and I’m sure also to make sure that no rules were bent or broken.  I never saw the actual rules of the derby but I do remember reading that it would be the length of the fish caught that would determine the winner and not the size or weight.  Therefore, I would assume that the entrants would concentrate their efforts on catching a species that is more known for length than weight, such as pike.

Given the large prize, and the nature of the human mind, I would think that it wouldn’t be beyond someone to try and pull a fast one and bring a live fish that they caught previously, and just put it on their hook to claim victory.  I wasn’t there when the event began and I don’t know if they checked peoples equipment on entry, but it’s a well known fact that money brings out, not only the worst, but also the most creative side of humanity sometimes.

Anyway, I’m not one for standing in one place too long, so I continued on my way.  I’ll probably read about the final results in the local newspaper at some point.

Wow!  The local newspaper just posted the results of the fishing derby.  A woman from Sturgeon Falls won the first prize, which was the staggering amount of $35, 900.  Yep, they had many more entrants this year than last, over 700, which resulted in a larger amount taken in, and the first prize is half of the amount they take in.

Oddly enough, they didn’t mention what kind, or how long the fish was but they did say that the newspaper would print a more complete story next week, so when I find out I will add the information here.

Update;

The local newspaper has now posted more details of the Fishing Derby.  The Sturgeon Falls lady won the contest with a very nice 33 inch pike, and there were no close rivals to that fish, so no complaints there.  The second and third place winners both caught the same type of fish and the same length, who knows, it might have even been the same fish since the derby was all catch and release.  That fish was a 12 inch long perch.  Nice size for pan fry.

However, the contest was not without controversy, like most events which have large cash prizes.  The lady who won the derby could not land the fish herself and needed the help of her husband, who was fishing in a separately paid for hole next to her.  To me, this should have surely disqualified her but I’m not the derby judge.  Whether he was her husband or not, one contestant helping another in the contest is very questionable.

Also, there were complaints about measuring of the fish and how that process took place.  I think that this derby is growing faster than expected and probably needs some administrative updates regarding how it’s run.  When cash prizes reach a certain point it starts to attract a lot more people and those people are usually more interested in the dollar signs than the sport of fishing.

There were 75  prizes in all and they were quite nice prizes.  The second prize was a new snowmobile.  From third place on, the contestants got to choose their own prize from what was available, according to their placement in the derby.

I’m sure that those running the derby will probably be looking at changes for next years event.  My guess is that there will be an even larger turnout.

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