The giveaway of a pair of ATV’s will be just part of the excitement during the Northern Challenge Ice Fishing Derby in Tupper Lake.
It certainly has been cold enough, and now ice fishermen from across the country will be heading to Tupper Lake for a pair of major fishing tournaments.
The Tupper Lake Rod and Gun Club will host the annual Northern Challenge Fishing Derby Saturday, Feb. 1, from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m.
Two weeks later, Tupper Lake will host the second of three stops for the second annual New York State Pro-Am Fishing Tournament.
“This is not just an economic boon for Tupper Lake but for Long Lake and Saranac Lake as well,” David McMahon of the Rod and Gun Club said. “Every one of our hotel rooms in Tupper Lake is already filled and we are sending people to the neighboring communities to find lodging.”
Conditions have been ideal for ice making this year, and McMahon believes that there will still be a good sheet over the local lakes despite the warmup of last weekend.
“We have 14-16 inches of good, solid ice out there,” McMahon said. “I get asked that question about 200 times in the month leading up to the derby. It’s not as cold in other places as it is here.”
McMahon said that the Northern Challenge Ice Fishing Derby, held annually on the first Saturday of February, draws between 800 and 900 anglers from throughout the United States and Canada.
“Believe it or not, I got a call from a guy in Italy about the tournament,” he said. “He is from Malone and said he plans to be home for the event, but we regularly have people from seven states and two countries. We have had people here from as far west as Colorado.”
The derby pays out over $33,000 in prizes, including $6,400 in hourly prizes, $500 in door prizes and a pair of All Terrain Vehicles, which run around $16,000 total. Last year there were five 50-50 drawings that each paid out an average of $1,900.
“This is the major fundraiser for the Rod and Gun Club,” McMahon said. “We make a profit from it that we use to pay our bills for things like insurance on the firing range. We also donate it back to the community with our kids programs, including the archery program that starts in February.”
The registration fee for the tournament is $35, and more information can be found at tupperlakearchers.net.
The New York State Ice Pro-Am Tournament is a series of three big-money/high-stakes events spread across the state where each event is split into two divisions. The Pro-Am Division requires each team to be skilled at targeting multiple fish species using multiple techniques on different waterways, while the Open Division is for those who like the standard derby format where the biggest fish wins. Species involved in the Tupper Lake event include Pike, Walleye, Lake Trout and Panfish.
Teams who fish two or more events in the Pro-Am Division can enter the Triple Crown Challenge, a Calcutta event within the series that yields the coveted Triple Crown Trophy and overall series championship.
Events begin Friday, Feb. 14, with check in and seminars before fishing begins Saturday and Sunday at 5 a.m. (Pro-Am) and 6 a.m. (Open). Anglers must be in line for weigh ins at 3 p.m.
The New York State Ice Pro-Am Fishing Tournament is put together by Great Lakes Pro Fishing team co-captains Jeff and Tim Thomas, owners of Finders Keepers Fishing Services.
Full event details, along with registration can be viewed at the official tournament website at NYSiceproam.com. The tournament director will also be on hand during the Northern Challenge Feb. 1.