158 people braved the below-freezing temperatures on Saturday (Feb. 2) to attend the Fourth Annual Fishing Highway 24 Ice Fishing Derby at the Loon Bay Resort on Sheridan Lake.
“It was amazing,” said Irene Meili, chair of the Fishing Highway 24 Tourist Association. “I mean, we talked about it before the event and I said that it would be great to see between 150 and 200 participants and we had 158, despite the cold. It was really, really cold and grey and all that, so it wasn’t a pleasant day and still there were so many people on the lake and that was amazing… All in all, it was very positive.”
Jennifer Sprecher came in first place after catching a seven pound and 13 ounces fish, winning the $1,000 cash prize.
“I think she only walked out about 150 metres. It took her about 15 to 20 minutes to catch that huge fish and not a lot of equipment. She’s very experienced, I have to say that but still, it didn’t take her a lot of stuff. It is a low-budget thing for her and still she won the $1,000,” said Meili.
Brodie Braatan and Chris Genaway came in second and third place, rewarding them with retail items worth over $500 and $400.
According to Meili, Sheridan Lake is not an easy lake to fish on because of its size. People fishing need to know where the good spots are or have to rely on luck.
She also added that it was nice to see returnees from the previous derbies come back.
Children also received a free fishing rod (if they wanted). There were lots of door prizes given out.
Meili said the type of weather can make it really tough on the kids who come out to fish or accompany their parents but she said she was happy to see them out there.
“If we see families or moms and kids or dads and kids show up, it’s nice and we totally appreciate because it brings people back to fishing and they might come back and do it again in the summer or spring,” she said. “I always like to see an increase in any type of outdoor activity.”
Previously, the event was held on a Sunday but Meili and the organizers decided to have it on a Saturday just to see if it would work better. She said it made a huge difference and they will be again having it on the first Saturday of February next year.
“It takes a while for an event to be known and it takes a lot of word of mouth advertising”, she said about the event becoming successful. “I think next year should be even better because people just know about it and if we’re able to keep it on the same weekend every year, it’s even easier.”