CONSTANCE BAY – Big money ice fishing is back in the Bay Sunday, March 1.
Mike and Peter’s 13th Annual Fishing Derby is scheduled for March 1 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Organizer and tournament namesake Mike Fines spoke to West Carleton Online last Friday (Jan. 31) while driving down through Pennsylvania – excuse us if this interview drops out.
Fines says the 12-year-old tournament started as a fun day out with friends and has been growing ever since including a huge turn out last year.
The tournament takes all the registration fees and awards them back to the top three pike caught during the derby. Last year 356 winter anglers registered for the tournament and a total of $7,120 was paid out to the winners.
“We were surprised at that turnout,” Fines said. “We didn’t have a ‘head office’ for people to pre-register last year. That was destroyed by the tornado. We ended up with 100 more than the year before. It gets bigger every year.”
Fines is married to Julie Delahunt who, with her sister Cindy, owned and operated the very popular Dunrobin Meat and Grocery. Fines was the manager of the liquor store located there. The entire building was heavily damaged by the tornado in 2018 and had to be demolished. It was often the headquarters for the groups many fundraising efforts.
“This is a charity tournament, not a profit tourney,” Fines said.
Fines says the prize money is great but there are lots of other things going out at the ice hut with the pirate flag.
There is a 50/50 draw. Last year the winner of that took home $2,400 with the other half going to purchase prizes for the following year’s derby. This year Cabella’s outdoor store is back on board after a one-year absence.
“We have a lot of really cool prizes going out this year,” Fines said.
That includes a 65-inch television, tackle, Cabella’s gift cards and more.
Registration takes place at co-organizer Peter Strong’s ice shack which is marked with the Jolly Roger flag. The designated fishing area is Horsehoe Bay to the Constance Bay point. Fines says Bailey Avenue is the best way to get to the derby and you will clearly see the set up.
Fines says the ice is looking pretty good and will be in great shape a month from now.
“There’s tons of ice,” he said. “At last measure there was about 18 inches. We’ve had some pretty cold nights. It’s always a nice hobby and it’s great to see families and kids come out.”
The fire pit will be going and “it’s a real social event.”
The derby blossomed from a social event 13 years ago.
“One weekend we just got a bunch of guys together and had a derby and it grew from there,” Fines said. “We went from 20 to 60 to 100. It just kind of exploded on us. If it’s a nice day we think we could get 500 people.”
While Mike and Peter get top billing on the tournament name, Fines is sure to mention Julie and Cindy.
“A lot of people say they run the tournament more than us,” he said with a laugh.
Registration is done at the tournament and costs $20 per angler and includes a hot dog lunch and an entry in to a draw. If you just want to come out for lunch, you can do so for $5.