Organizers of the 150 Mile Elementary Family Ice Fishing Derby said they were completely amazed by how successful the inaugural event turned out to be this past Monday, Feb. 17.
Held at Dugan Lake to coincide with Family Day and organized by the 150 Mile Elementary Parent Advisory Council, family-focused fun was the theme throughout the day.
“Our day began at 7 a.m. as we began our setup and by 8 a.m. we had people beginning to arrive,” said organizing committee member Chantelle Wessels. “I’m sure we all wondered in the back of our minds how many would actually show up to the derby but the people just kept coming and coming.
“People arrived bringing quads, snowmobiles, side by sides, sleighs for kids and ice fishing huts.”
She said people definitely came prepared for a fun day, kids were frolicking in the snow and smiles were shared by all.
“The public support was more than we could have imagined,” she said.
Sunshine and blue skies helped brighten everyone’s moods, as well, as 205 ice fishing derby tickets were sold, well over the organizing committee’s initial goal of 150.
Eighty-nine children, under 12 years old, also registered.
As for the derby, itself, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. there was a total of 30 fish caught to be weighed in: 20 in the adult division and 10 in the under 12 group.
The winners in the adult categories were:
First: Josef Aschwanden (two pounds, five ounces)
Second: Dave DeForge (two pounds, two ounces)
Third: Edward Nolan (one pound, 12 ounces)
Hidden weight (closest to 12 ounces): Dave Stanley (11 ounces)
13th fish caught: Tom Nickel (four ounces)
First fish of the day: Richard Brown (one pound, nine ounces)
The winners in the under 12 categories were:
First: Emalie DeForge (one pound, five ounces)
Second: Jordan Yaworski (12 ounces)
Third: Devin DeForge (seven ounces)
Hidden weight (closest to eight ounces): Dean Bartley (seven ounces)
10th fish caught: Leland Halverson (six ounces)
First fish of the day: James Casler (seven ounces)
On site, organizers had a table set up for the Invasive Special Council of B.C. where representatives were on hand to provide some education during the derby, as well.
The Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC, through its Learn to Fish Program, also loaned rods for some participants to use throughout the day.
The 150 Mile House Fire Department was also on site with one of its fire trucks and some members from the department answering questions, meeting the public, monitoring the bonfire and cooking hot dogs.
Mike Shannon of Uncle Paul’s Gourmet Blends helped keep everyone warm with his local blend of coffee and had hot chocolate for the kids.
Volunteers from 150 Mile elementary, meanwhile, provided sweets through a bake sale, while coffee and hot chocolate sales and the concession were very successful, Wessels noted.
“We had really great prizes for those entered to fish, as well as many bucket draws so everyone could get in on trying to win a prize,” she said. “Everyone was very respectful as there was really no garbage left behind.”
Wessels credited PAC president Michelle Iverson with coming up with the great idea to host the derby and said her planning and organizing, along with the help of the committee, really allowed them to follow through on the event with very few hitches.
“We were very organized considering this was our first year,” she said.
“We want to thank all the individuals and businesses who sponsored our fishing derby in ways of donations of funds, prizes or support,” Wessels said. “They helped make the derby a success. More importantly, though, a huge thank you needs to go out to the public for coming out and joining us for the fishing derby. We raised thousands of dollars for our 150 Mile School — a huge fundraiser for us and none of this would have been possible if the public did not come out to support us.”
She said feedback received has been phenomenal, and they’re already thinking of ways to improve on things for next year to make the derby even better.