Ice fishing derbies help beat the cold

Perhaps the little break in the weather we received the past few days will continue and we’ll be able to get outside a little more. When the temperatures are below zero, about the only outdoor time is walking from your home to your vehicle and from your vehicle to work.

It’s simply too cold to get out and enjoy outdoor sports.

One of the outdoor sports being avoided of late has been ice fishing, with most bodies of water devoid of the anglers they usually attract.

There are exceptions, of course, like the Brainerd Ice Fishing Extravaganza held recently in Minnesota. This granddaddy of all fishing tournaments drew about 10,000 anglers, no doubt looking to cash-in on some of the $150,000 worth of prizes that included a new pickup truck as the top prize.

While that size of a tourney is certainly an attention grabber, there are a few tournaments in our area that offer a lot of fun, as well as some more modest prize money – and help chase the cold away.

Included is the Big Bay Snowmobile Club’s Fishing Derby on Lake Independence that is set for Feb. 8-9.

This year marks the 34rd annual contest, which offers adult and youth divisions with northern pike, walleye and perch categories in each division.

Cash prizes are awarded for the top fish in each category, including $100 for first, $50 for second and $25 for third in the adult division; and $75 for first, $50 for second and $25 for third in the youth division. In addition, there is $25 given to the angler with the biggest sucker in each division.

There is also a special team contest, with teams vying for the Jim Horton Award, which includes cash prizes of $200 for first place, $100 for second and $50 for third. The team contest uses a point system for each team’s biggest walleye, northern pike and perch.

Under the system, perch are worth three points per inch, walleye two points per inch and pike one point per inch, with an additional point given for the biggest fish in each category.

Team registration is open until noon Feb. 8 and is required prior to fishing. Registration can be made at the weigh-in station in Perkins Park.

The derby includes a special prize drawing for adults, as well as prize drawings for kids at the weigh-in station, where the snowmobile club also operates a concession stand. Several Big Bay and Marquette area businesses donate prizes and cash to the event.

Fishing will run from 8 a.m. Feb. 8 until about 3 p.m. Feb. 9, with the awards presentation set an hour after the conclusion of fishing at the Thunder Bay Inn.

Buttons for the derby cost $10 for adults and $1 for kids 12 years old and younger and are on sale at businesses around Big Bay, as well as at Phil’s 550 Store in Marquette Township. In addition to buttons, fishing minnows are available at Phil’s 550 along County Road 550 and in Big Bay at Cram’s Store and Big Bay Outfitters.

Another fishing derby coming up is the 30th annual Moose Lodge contest set for 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 15 on AuTrain Lake.

This contest occurs during the winter free fishing weekend, which allows residents and non-residents to fish without having to buy a fishing license.

The derby costs $10 for adults and free for children 12 years old and younger who fish with a registered adult. Registration can be made at the Moose Lodge on Superior Street in Munising or on the day of he event at the boat house on AuTrain Lake.

Awards will be presented at 5 p.m. at the Moose Lodge, where dinner will be available from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Call 387-2879 for more information.

Editor’s note: City Editor Dave Schneider can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 270. His email address is