Tupper derby draws 700+ ice anglers despite -35 morning

A Tupper Lake Northern Challenge Ice Fishing Derby worker shows off a fish before he releases it back into Simon Pond Saturday. (Enterprise photo — Parker O’Brien)

TUPPER LAKE — When Tupper Lake Sports Club President Dave McMahon went up to Simon Pond at 3 a.m. Saturday, he said the temperature was minus 35 degrees Fahrenheit.

Nearly four hours later, 714 people were out on the frozen pond competing in the Northern Challenge. The annual event is a catch-and-release ice fishing derby where competitors are only allowed to catch pike.

“I did learn one thing: There are 714 people crazier than I am because I wouldn’t be out on that ice,” McMahon said.

The largest caught pike during the derby weighed 8.64 pounds. According to McMahon, the winner received approximately $2,100 for the Lunker Pool, along with an extra $500 for having the biggest catch of the hour.

Around $40,000 in cash and prizes were given out. McMahon said Donna LaMere of Tupper Lake won a shotgun; the winners of two four-wheelers won’t be announced until Tuesday.

In the past, the event brought around 1,200 people, but McMahon said the cold weather had a major effect on how many people competed in this year’s derby.

“Everybody seemed to have a good time. I didn’t have any complaints of any kind. DEC wrote one ticket out, and that was for somebody who didn’t have a registered snow sled,” McMahon said. “We went out (on Sunday) and patroled the road and around the club. We picked up garbage and stuff laying around, and there wasn’t even a full garbage bag. Everybody picked up their stuff.

“One guy from Paul Smith’s College lost his wallet, and we got it back to him,” he added. “What was surprising was all of his money and stuff was still in it. It speaks to the quality of people that we draw in.”


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