GRANVILLE - One of the state's longest running ice fishing derbies had another successful and well-attended day on Dec. 29. According to director Allen Gotvaslee, who has been present for every one of the Granville Masons events, 150 ice fishermen participated in the 18th annual ice fishing derby at Buffalo Lodge Lake.
Buffalo Lodge Lake is located about five miles northeast of Granville. During the summer months it is a popular spot for boat and shore fishermen. The lake contains fishable populations of northern pike, perch and walleye. Northern pike are usually the predominant species hooked by ice fishermen.
A fluffy snow cover and about 15 inches of ice greeted anglers for the recent Granville Masons derby. Fishing was reasonably active for northern pike.
Jessie Lystad, Granville, with the second-largest northern pike caught in the recent Buffalo Lodge Fishing Derby. The pike weighed 5 pounds, 1 ounce.
"They're biting pretty good," said Jessie Lystad, Granville, while taking a short break to weigh a 5-pound, 1-ounce pike. "I've got another one exactly the same weight. Last year I caught an 11 (pound), 7 (ounce fish)."
Pike at Buffalo Lodge generally run in the 3- to 5-pound range. Occasionally bigger pike are taken, but they have been rare in recent years.
"It is good old northern pike fishing," remarked Miles Petras, Surrey, while watching tournament officials hook his pike onto a scale. "It took a little jig with kind of a rubber skirt on it. We haven't had any perch or anything come in yet."
Petras said the pike he brought to the weighing house at the Buffalo Lodge parking area was the "fifth or sixth" caught by his group. None of them were over the 5-pound mark. While Petras' fish snapped up a small jig, smelt was cited as a popular bait by other ice fishermen seeking to entice pike.
The derby ran from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., giving ice fishermen plenty of time to pack up and get home before dark or do a little more fishing outside of derby hours. Prizes were awarded for the top two and smallest northern pike, the top two perch and the largest walleye.
Pike and perch honors went to Keith Aamot of Wahpeton. Aamot iced a 5-pound, 8-ounce northern and a 9-ounce perch. Lystad's 5-pound, 1-ounce pike was good enough for second place. Lystad also had the smallest pike with a 1-pound, 7-ouncer. Hope Trana of Granville finished second in the perch category with a 6-ounce catch.
Walleyes proved to be uncooperative during derby hours, as none were caught. A drawing was held to determine the winner of the walleye division.
Despite a stretch of below zero temperatures, the ice pack at Buffalo Lodge was "about 17 inches or so," according to one fisherman. Snowpack on top of the ice appeared to be acting as an insulator to keep the lake from forming thicker ice. Similar conditions exist elsewhere in the state. A strong wind might be needed to remove some snow cover. As always, ice fishermen are advised to use extreme caution when venturing onto any frozen lake or river.