Ice Fishing Derby 2014

As February winds down, and the winter shows no signs of letting up, hundreds of people, both local, and out of town, gathered on the ice of Horne Lake, in Elliot Lake, for the annual Ice Fishing Derby.

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Compared to last year, the weather was probably not too much different, except that there was a nasty cold wind blowing. Yesterday had been very stormy, which most likely prevented a lot more people from showing up. After all, the first prize in this contest is nothing to sneeze at, averaging around $35,000., or half of the amount taken in for the $100. a pop registration fees.

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Last year, I had come down here early in the morning, since my son had entered the contest, and I went down with him. This year, there was no way I was getting out of my warm bed to brave the cold, windy conditions, just to get a few shots of the lineups. However, they usually start letting people onto the ice at around 10am, but the fishing doesn’t start until noon.

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They are quite strict about who gets out onto the ice. No one without a ticket will get out there, and I do mean NO ONE. I heard a story from a woman, who’s husband registered for a hole, but he had bad knees and could not walk very well. They asked if someone could help him out onto the ice. They were told that if another person was going out onto the ice, they would have to purchase a $100. ticket, even if they were only helping him to get to his hole.

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This is the area up at the Miners Monument parking lot, where the contestants would gather after the Derby, to receive their awards, and door prizes would be drawn.

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It seemed that the conditions on the ice were a bit more firm this year, than last year. Last year, folks were up to their knees in slush, but this year, people were walking a bit easier. We had just had a very rare milder day, and then the temperatures dropped overnight, creating a harder surface on the snow covered ice.

The turnout this year was a bit less than last year, most likely because of the storm we had the day before the Derby. Some people have to travel long distances, and weather plays a critical role in their decision whether to come or not. Last year, we had about 700 contestants, and this year that number dropped to 644.

Since half the purse goes to the contestant who catches the longest fish, the top prize for this Derby would be $32,200. Not a bad deal for 3 hours of fishing, if you can swing it.

When I arrived on the scene, it was getting closer to the end of the Derby, so I wanted to see if I could find a good vantage point to get some shots of the award presentations.

In this video, I had moved up to the Miner’s Monument parking lot, right beside where the awards would be made. I climbed up on top of a snow mound, which was created from plowing a section of the parking lot.

You can tell that it was quite windy, and you can see some light snow, blowing sideways.

The air horn is about to be sounded, marking the end of the Derby, although I saw a number of contestants leaving before that happened. At this point, I decided to move my position, since I didn’t want to be trapped there when the crowd started to come up to the awards area.

The pilgrimage from the ice to the awards area has begun.

I’m now on another mountain of snow close to the highway, a little farther back, but I still have a good view of where I think that they will be making the awards.

One thing I will say, the PA system was much better this year. Last year I couldn’t hear a word that the announcer was saying, and I was much closer last year. However, the presentations did not go off without a hitch.

After the contestants had gathered for the awards, there was a very long wait for the official results to arrive. Therefore, it was decided to go ahead with the door prizes first, and that’s what the above video is showing.

Again, these are door prizes being drawn. You might think that this video is all over the place but you should have seen it before I stabilized it in YouTube. I was shaking like crazy from the cold, since I had been there for about 2 hours. My hands would go numb doing just one video, then I’d have to put them back in my pockets for a while.

It’s hard to hear because of all the background noise, but they have now started handing out the top 12 Derby prizes. This one was an ice auger for landing a 29cm Perch.

So, we finally get to the real winners, and where is all that noise coming from? Well, I’ll tell you where it’s coming from. Just as they started announcing the winners, the blasted trail grooming machine came along, and the guy that was driving it didn’t give a damn about any awards ceremony. He actually forced his way through the crowd, as the presenter was trying to continue with the awards.

The presenter was clearly upset with this intrusion, and he said so. You think that someone would have scheduled the grooming for another day or time.

Now, we are down to the top two prizes. In this next video the presenter will announce the second prize winner. In case you can’t hear, it is a new Polaris ATV and the winner caught a 31.5cm Perch.

So, I’ve been standing around for almost two hours now just to get some video of the grand prize winner, who will receive a check for $32,200. for catching a 55cm pike. However, there will be no such video. It seems that the battery in my camera had perfect timing and decided to die right at that moment. I did have two cameras with me, and I desperately tried, with my numb hands, to get the other camera out and turned on, but the announcement had been made before I could do that.

Such is life. Anyway, most of the people had already left the area before the first prize winner had been announced, and I can’t say I blame them. They had already been out on the ice for 3 hours, and then the awards took about an hour and a half. In fact, when the door prizes were being given out, many of the names called had already left, so the presenter just kept trying another name, until someone acknowledged that they were there.

So that’s it for another Ice Fishing Derby. Now, we can look forward to spring, right? Not so fast grasshopper. The forecast says we’re going right back into the Arctic conditions that have been with us for almost the entire winter so far. Oh and, by the way, I did notice that the gas prices jumped by 5 cents a liter just for the Derby. How nice of them.

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