Ice anglers, if you like fishing tournaments, then February is your month.
In fact, in the next couple of weeks, you will have to pick and choose among the tournaments to decide where to fish.
Whether you like fishing for trout, perch or northern pike, you’ll find a day on the ice where you might win some money. As an added bonus, some of these tourneys benefit local organizations and, in the case of some non-profit organizations, it’s their only fund-raiser of the year.
Of course, as you fish the tourney, it’s also a great way to spend the day with your family and friends.
One of the most-heavily-attended ice fishing derbies is held on McGregor Lake in northwestern Montana.
Last year, approximately 750 anglers participated in the derby, which is held on the lake west of Kalispell. This trout derby has a pretty decent payout with last year’s first place paying $1,875 for the largest lake caught and $1,500 for the largest rainbow.
The amount of money that is awarded is determined by how many anglers enter. The entry fee is $10 per angler with 100 percent payback. The 2003 McGregor Lake Fishing Derby will be held Feb. 8-9. There is a special children’s division and you must check in prior to 8 a.m. both days of the derby. The Derby will end at 3 p.m. on Feb. 9. For more information, call the McGregor Lake Resort at 406-858-2253.
Lake Frances, which is next to the town of Valier, will host its annual ice-fishing tournament on Feb. 15. This is the fifth year for the Volunteer Fireman’s Fishing Tournament, where a portion of the proceeds goes to help the local fire department.
The ice tourney normally attracts around 350 anglers. Lake Frances provides excellent fishing for perch, northern pike and walleye. You can get your tickets at either One-Stop Conoco, Mike’s Exxon, or the Panther Cafe, all located in Valier. Call Jim Vinson for more information at 406-279-3383.
Lake Mary Ronan will host the annual Perch Pounder on Feb. 15. Entry into this derby is free. Snappy’s Sports Center in Kalispell and the Mountain Meadows Resort sponsor it.
The largest salmon will be awarded a nice prize and the heaviest weight of five combined perch will be awarded a prize. Sponsors will also draw for other prizes as well. Last year, a lot of kids participated in the derby. For more information on the Perch Pounder, call the Mountain Meadows Resort at 406-849-5459.
The VFW Fish Derby will be held on February 16 on Newlan Creek Reservoir. Entry fee is $5 and the derby will run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Newlan Creek Reservoir is located just north of White Sulphur Springs. Call 406-547-2330 for more information.
As is normal with the unpredictable weather we are having, you are advised to call ahead for all of these tournaments. You never know about the ice conditions and there is always the possibility that one of the derbies might be canceled because of bad ice. Let’s hope they all come off without a hitch and provide good luck for everyone fishing in February.