Local ice fishing derbies have been a winter staple for several generations of North Country anglers. Last week, though, a new-kid-on-the-block derby made its way to the area in the form of a professional ice fishing tournament when the Northeast Ice Fishing Circuit (NEIFC) held an event at Black Lake.
The Black Lake event was one of seven panfishing competitions on the 2013 NEIFC and like the other six tournaments, the Black Lake one was a panfish tournament comprised of a practice day on Saturday, a free kids’ clinic and fishing contest on Saturday, and actual competition on Sunday.
Unfortunately, high winds and warm temperatures on Sunday resulted in organizers making a decision at 4:30 a.m. to cancel the tournament for safety reasons. When I spoke with NEIFC director, Jeff Snyder, he said they planned on including Black Lake on their tournament schedule again next winter.
On the Saturday practice day, I had a glimpse into the world of professional ice fishing when I spent time with Nathan Krusko at Black Lake’s Rollway Bay. Nathan emphasized that mobility and time efficiency were critical for success on the ice fishing circuit, and he referred to the portable Eskimo shelter as his office. Having removed the seat from the one-person shelter, Nathan was able to neatly store all of his gear inside, and that storage allowed for mobility and saving time.
Nathan also noted that tournament ice anglers were on the cutting edge of their sport, and Nathan’s equipment definitely reflected that cutting-edge trend. For example, he used a lightweight ION battery-operated 40VMAX ice auger that would cut 40 holes through 24 inches of ice on a single battery charge. Too, he wore a lightweight Striker Ice suit that provided warmth and also served as a flotation suit should he fall through the ice.
Too, his bucket served as his seat and for fish storage, and that bucket had attached lure compartments, rod holders, and electronics. When Nathan moved from one spot to another, he carried this fully-rigged pail in one hand and the electric auger in the other.
Perhaps the major difference between the weekend ice angler and the professional one is the pro’s skilled use of electronics. Anglers on the tournament trail are skilled at using GPS units, underwater cameras, and flasher units to locate structure, to locate fish, to determine a fish’s mood, and to make a presentation that entices a fish to bite.
Nathan Krusko is a true ambassador for the sport of ice fishing.
Anglers who visit his website at www.northeasticefishing.com and listen to or view the various clips there are sure to become more knowledgeable about ice fishing. For example, utilizing Nathan’s concept of “bowing to the gills” will translate to more panfish at lineís end.
For the current season, NEIFC is conducting events on Black Lake, Silver Lake, Honeoye Lake, and Oneida Lake in New York; Lake Champlain and Lake Bomoseen in Vermont; and Khale Lake in Pennsylvania.
All events are panfish ones where the winning team (one or two anglers) will be determined by the total weight of 12 panfish (perch, crappies, bluegills, or sunfish). Membership is not required to fish, and the entry fee for one person or a two-person team is $100 per event with an 80% of entry fee payout.
The NEIFC was established to promote the sport of ice fishing through tournaments, free seminars, kids-only fishing clinics, and fish-for-free events. NEIFC members strive to teach the next generations the skills to catch fish through the ice and to introduce them to the joys, satisfaction, and rewards that a day on the ice can bring.
For more information on the NEIFC, visit www.northeasticefishingcircuit.com.
Saturday—Sign-up Day (in-person) for Hunter Education Course at SLVSC (344-4017).
Saturday—Redwood VFD’s “Luck of the Draw” Ice Fishing Derby (783-8993).
Saturday—Parishville VFD’s Annual Rabbit Hunt (244-0817 or 265-2922).
Saturday-Sunday—Saranac Lake F& Club’s 29th Annual Colby Classic Ice Fishing Derby.
Saturday-Sunday—Lyme Ice Fishing Derby.
February 9—Chippewa Bay F&G Club’s Annual Ice Fishing Derby.
February 9—River Valley Gun Dog Club Hosts Annual Banquet at SLVSC.
February 9—Sons of the American Legion’s Annual Ice Fishing Derby at Sackets Harbor.
Feb. 9 - The Waddington Sons of the American Legion’s Ice Fishing Derby fFor further information, please contact derby chairman, John Dinneen at 315-388-4360.February 9-10—Theresa FD’s 27th Annual “Luck of the Draw” Ice Fishing Derby (777-3936).
February 13-17—Central New York Boat Show at NYS Fairgrounds in Syracuse.
Feb. 16: Howie’s/fishcap Ice fishing derby 7am-3pm. Wheathouse Bay Ogdensburg, NY. Call 393-3669 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 16—Clayton’s 8th Annual Catch-and-Release Ice Fishng Derby (771-3533 or 767-4497).
February 16—Plessis Annual Fishing Derby (Luck of the Draw and Big Fish Divisions).
February 23—SLRWA’s Annual Northern Pike Challenge (384-3450).
February 23—Racquette Valley F&G Club’s Ice Fishing Derby.