Just when I was about to put all of my winter gear away and start dusting off the beach wear, old man winter let us know that he isn’t done quite yet. There was a brief concern that the annual mega ice derby at Falcon Lake would not go ahead as planned due to deteriorating ice. Temperatures held low enough however to maintain safe ice thickness much to the delight of the over 1,200 ice anglers who came out to compete for the $10,000 first prize.
Among them were brothers Bermie and Cenon Catalan of Winnipeg. The pair, originally from Pangasinan in the Philippines, settled in to the pre-drilled holes directly adjacent to mine. Our strategies were alike in that we were targeting big northern pike that we figured were hanging in the shallow water at the far western edge of the derby grid. Their first time ever fishing this event Mang Bermie came prepared with the right bait to win, “I’m using sardines for the pike. Kung hindi ma gamit lahat, puede din ulamin mamaya (if we don’t use them all, we can eat them after).”
Our section didn’t see too much action during the three hour event. One small pike was caught early nearby and then the eventual third place winning fish was caught four holes from mine towards the end. My group did get two flags to go up in the first hour on our huge mackerel baits but we failed to get the fish out of the hole each time. As Kuyang Cenon put it, “Sayang! (that’s too bad)”. It really was, as all it would have taken to get into the Top 50 for prizes was a small 1.32lb fish.
The winning fish was much smaller than what we have seen the past several years weighing in at only 6.30lbs. And with only 72 fish brought in to the scale in total, it seems that the fish were just as confused by the swings in weather as I was and apparently weren’t in the mood to eat. Ah well, at least the weather was nice and as Kuya Cenon reminded me, “Malapit na ang stripe bass (almost time for white bass).”