Monday, January 14, 2013

Merritt Ice Fishing Derby - A Popular Family Event

(Originally published in the Merritt Herald - Othmar Vohringer, The Outdoorsman Column) 

© By Othmar Vohringer

On Sunday, January 13, the Nicola Valley Fish & Game Club hosted its 12th annual ice fishing derby at Mamit Lake. The weather was mostly cloudy but without the cold winds common on that lake, making for cold but pleasant conditions. Close to 200 people and families attended the event for a day of family fun and fishing. Over the years the ice fishing derby has become a traditional staple of Merritt’s winter events that attracts many anglers from our region and beyond. The recent snowfall leading up to the derby had the organizers worried about the ice conditions on the lake. Measurements showed that the ice had not been as thick as in previous years and participants were asked to park vehicles on the lake shore as a safety precaution.

Due to a fractured elbow I was unable to attend the event from the beginning to the end, but have been told that the fishing has been fair with a few respectable trout being caught. A warm hospitality tent provided the anglers a place to warm up and consume free hot chocolate and coffee. For the hungry there were hotdogs with all the trimmings available for a minimal price of two dollars. Courtesy of the generous donations from the Merritt merchants and business community there were plenty of door and draw prizes awaiting the anglers and children plus cash prizes for first, second and third heaviest trout and heaviest coarse fish caught. The lucky winners this year are; B. Spinks and C. Mike (hidden weight tie), B. Smit (best coarse fish), P. Robison (1st. place trout), M. Mosley (2nd. place trout) and R. Mc Gowan (3rd. place trout).

All in all it was a great event that once again highlighted the fact that fishing indeed is a recreational activity that can be enjoyed by the whole family. The ice fishing derby is also an important annual fundraising event for the Nicola Valley Fish & Game Club to support their many local wildlife and habitat conservation programs.

Having been the chairperson of the Nicola Valley Fish & Game Club ice fishing committee in 2010 and 2011, I am truly humbled to have witnessed the dedication and hard work of the club’s volunteers to organize such a large event each year. The club would also like to acknowledge the generosity of the merchants, businesses, media and private individuals who faithfully donate prizes for this event or provide other forms of support in any way they see fit. It truly is this unique community spirit prevalent in the Nicola Valley that provides families a great day out in our beautiful nature while at the same time providing important funding to preserve and enhance the natural world around us, and promoting our rich hunting and fishing heritage in this province.

Just as soon as my arm is fully functional again Heidi and I will load up our ice fishing gear and head to one of many lakes around Merritt for a few hours of relaxation and fishing joy.

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