TUPPER LAKE - Northern Challenge Ice Fishing Derby organizers were thrilled with the weather Saturday for the annual event that turns Lake Simond into an ice fishing village for the day.
"You couldn't ask for any better weather," said derby Chairman Dave McMahon. "Ice conditions are perfect."
After last year, when about a foot-and-a-half of water stood on top of the ice for the derby, McMahon was pleased to see clear ice with just a little bit of snow and plenty of sun.
A pair of fishermen call it a day, hauling their gear in from the ice at the end of the Northern Challenge Ice Fishing Derby on Lake Simond in Tupper Lake Saturday.
(Enterprise photo — Jessica Collier)
He was also pleased with the haul of fish.
"We've had some really extremely nice fish," McMahon said.
Bob Pioli, president of the Rod and Gun Club, which puts on the event every year, was manning the weigh-in station with Bob Fuller and said there were 210 fish caught throughout the day. He called it the derby's best year so far in terms of number of fish.
Two countries and seven states were represented by the 925 people participating in the event Saturday. McMahon said all the hotels in Tupper Lake were filled, and there was some spillover into surrounding areas.
Many people weren't actually fishing but just came out to hang out on the ice. McMahon said there were even families meeting up and having reunions on the ice.
"Everybody seems to be having a good time," he said.
The five 50/50 raffles averaged about $1,700 apiece, and McMahon said they gave away about $33,000 in prizes throughout the day.
McMahon said state Sen. Betty Little also showed up earlier in the afternoon. She was given a ride out on the ice so she could visit with anglers.
McMahon said one of his favorite things was to see so many kids there Saturday.
"That's great," he said.
McMahon said they tried to give kids little prizes and things to get them interested in outdoor sports and to draw them away from sitting inside and watching TV and playing on computers.
McMahon, who is part of a local group of Civil War re-enactors, joined some of his colleagues to set off a cannon to mark the end of the derby at 3 p.m.