The fish in Baitshop Bay can once again rest easy with the conclusion of the first Annual PIIFA ice fishing derby on February 28. Of the 49 participants, Lise Leclair brought home the big prize with a 5.6 pound northern pike with what she said, "was the biggest fish I had ever caught."
Lise took the suspense right to end by catching her winning fish with just seconds left in the derby. Without as much as a nibble all day, Lise was calling it a day when the big pike took her bait. She told us, "At first, I thought it was snagged on something but then I felt it pulling. I knew it was something big but I was shocked when I actually saw how big it was, I knew it was the winner." This is a fish that Lise will be talking about for years to come.
The derby was a non-profit event with all money returned to the participants in prizes. Al Macintyre, president of PIIFA told us before the event, "We wanted to organize a low key event just for the people who normally fish in Baitshop Bay. We've never done this before and wanted to get it right at the organizational level before organizing a fundraiser for a worthy charity next season. After the event, we'll sit back and see what we did right and check what can be improved, then start planning for the 2010 derby"
Mr. Macintyre stressed that the annual PIIFA derby will never be an event with 5000 participants, "All our future derbies will be low key and only for the hut owners of Baitshop Bay and their friends. You'll never see the guys from FishHawk and we'll never be giving a jeep as first prize." He said he hopes to have at least 100 participants for the 2010 derby.
Besides Lise Leclair and her 5.6 pound northern pike for the largest fish of the day, other winners included Pee-Wee for the largest panfish of the day and Rob Meledoro for the smallest legally caught fish of the day.
Raffle winners included Bob Moreau, Francine Martin, Louis Cloutier, André Brind'Amour, Jacques Coté and Billy Hum.
If you were a participant in the 2009 derby, we want to hear from you! Let us know how we can improve for next year's derby, plus we're making a list of possible charities for next year's derby. Send us an email or see us on the ice.