It was a record breaking turnout for the 18th annual Schroon Lake Fish and Game Club ice fishing derby March 6 - 7, with 567 people coming out to participate under warm sunny skies.
Unfortunately fishermen weren't the only ones thawing out over the weekend as the mercury tipped 50 degrees. Unseasonable ice conditions followed and the event was marked by a truck, Jeep and 4-wheeler plunging through the ice just south of the narrows.
Thankfully, no one was hurt and the competition continued.
When it was all said and done, Jeremiah Millington of Warrensburg had bragging rights with a nearly 20-pound northern he said he caught "somewhere on the lake." The fish measured 43 inches.
Other first place fish included a 8.65 pound, 30-inch laker caught by Mike Winters of Gansevoort; a 2.63 pound, 20-inch landlock caught by Jerry Smith III of Schroon Lake; a 1.5 pound perch caught by David Disonell, Sr. of Hannacroix and a 4.2 pound, 26-inch pickerel caught by Richard Wagner of Avon, CT.
The remaining contest winners included:
• Northern Pike - Brian Hall of Bolton Landing, second place with 9.04 pounds and 33 inches. Third place went to Kevin Duntley of North Hudson with 8.11 pounds and 32 inches.
• Lake Trout - Second place went to Darrell Clark of Schroon Lake with 7.23 pounds and 28 3/4 inches and third place went to Nichole Plumstead of Schroon Lake with 7.13 pounds and 28 inches.
• Salmon - Second place went to Mike Flaherty of Round Top with 2.32 pounds and 19 inches and third place went to Cody Dunlavy of Queensbury with 2.10 pounds and 18 inches.
The Ice Auger raffle was won by Marline Powers and Jim Robbins of Schroon Lake. The Pack Basket and Sled raffle was won by Brad Bordeau of Moriah.
The Schroon Lake Class of 2012 50-50 raffle was won by Chris Meduri of Schroon Lake and the Fish and Game Club 50-50 raffle was won by Brandon Stuart of Townsend, MA.
Club president Don Sage said the club would like to thank all the volunteers, donators, and contestants who contributed to making this a very successful and enjoyable weekend.
"We invite everyone back to next year's, the 19th derby, held on the first weekend of March, and bring your friends. Hope to see you all next year. Visit us online at www.schroonlakefishandgameclub.com," he said.
Fur prices on the mend
As a kid growing up in the Adirondacks, my mornings before school and my evenings after were consumed with the outdoors. I ran a rather extensive trapline for beaver, otter, mink and muskrat as well as land animals like fox and coyote. It served as a great deterrent to some of the mischief other kids were getting involved in and, at times, proved quite lucrative.
"The best thing about trapping is you'll always have a buck in your pocket," my uncle Ed used to say.
Unfortunately, those days became a thing of the past. Fur prices dropped so low, that I couldn't justify taking the animal for what trappers were being paid. I was never in it for the money, but the fur prices were downright insulting.
It now appears that is changing. Fur prices are slowly climbing closer to what they were 20 years ago. Here is a glimpse at how much fur was selling for on average in February, according to the Fur Harvesters Association.
Muskrat was the real highlight, selling at an $8.50 average. Beaver pelts landed at $21 each with a high of $72 and a low of $14, while raccoon held ranges of $13-$22 based on grading.
Coyote prices came in at the $30-$35 range - a 36 percent increase over last year - and eastern red fox rose noticeably above last season's levels to $31. Grey fox performed well, gaining buyer attention at $20 each.
Otter, one of the most poorly performing pelts over the past few seasons, returned to acceptable pricing at an average of $42. Fisher remained a popular item for buyers, with a typical fur selling at $62.
John Gereau is managing editor of Denton Publications and an avid outdoorsman. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.