Hard water anglers are encouraged to cast off and reel in a winner at the Saranac Lake Fish and Game Club’s 30th Annual Colby Classic Ice Fishing Derby starting on Saturday, March 1, at Lake Colby.
Contestants will be eligible to win prizes in four categories — trout, salmon, perch and northern pike — with separate prizes divvied out to adults and kids.
Fifteen tagged salmon will be released by the Department of Conservation into Lake Colby. Each of those come with a $100 prize to any fisherman who manages to free them from the icy depths.
One comes with a $500 prize in honor of the event’s 30th anniversary.
“We’ll see generations of families coming out,” said derby chairwoman Cecilia Martin. “It’s really fun to see everyone and listen to their stories.”
Martin said anglers can also fan out to surrounding lakes and can keep what they catch.
Fisherman can bring their catch to the Beach House for weigh-in anytime between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. with a final call at 4:15 p.m.
Pikes tend to average 12 pounds while the others tend to max out at around two.
“One year, a guy caught a really nice, big brown trout and cooked it up for lunch the next day,” she said. “We told him as a joke that we hadn’t officially weighed it before he ate it and he panicked.”
Grand prize is a charter fishing trip for two with the Mexico, New York-based Fish Doctor Charters. Other prizes include a two-man pop-up ice shanty, gift certificates to Shaheen’s IGA in Tupper Lake and an eight-inch power auger.
Martin said the derby averages about 250-300 participants per year. “It all depends on how the fishing has been doing and the ice conditions — the ice has been doing well this year.”
At least one foot of black ice is ideal. Officials drilling on Friday reported a depth of at least two.
With a weather forecast predicting show showers and temperatures in the mid-teens on Saturday, participants will likely enjoy the bowls of piping hot chili served up by Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau and the village trustees.
“There’s going be sweat rolling off your forehead even if it’s 20 below,” Rabideau said.
Martin said for many, inclement weather won’t act as a deterrent:
“If it’s time to fish, they’ll go fish.”
Participants can pre-register at the Blue Line Sports Shop or on Saturday and Sunday at the Beach House starting at 6:45 a.m.