GRANVILLE - A brisk wind was whipping snow across roadways and over the lake during the beginning moments of the 19th annual Granville Masons ice fishing derby at Buffalo Lodge Lake Dec. 28. Before noon, as the images of ice fishermen on the lake faded away behind increased snowfall and high winds, the National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning.
Even though wind chills dropped as winds persisted, ice fishermen continued to watch their tip-ups for any sign of hungry northern pike lurking beneath the frozen cover. Despite the winter weather that raged above the ice, harsh enough to test the resolve of any fisherman, the pike proved remarkably active. A number of pike were weighed inside the warm icehouse that served as official headquarters for the derby.
The early lead belonged to two fishermen who each brought 4-pound, 12-ounce pike to the scale. The lead changed hands later as Lane Bachmeier of Granville weighed in a 5-pound, 6-ounce pike and Taylor Mann of Granville a 4-pound, 14-ouncer. Bachmeier and Mann finished first and second in the derby.
Quite a fish! Larry Lundy, 8, Granville, shows off a northern pike he pulled through the ice last weekend at Buffalo Lodge Lake.
There were categories for perch and walleye, too, other species commonly caught at Buffalo Lodge, but none were weighed. Some anglers spent time targeting those species but to no avail.
Lynn Meade of Burlington brought his two boys, Jerrid and Adam, to the event. They had early success before calling it a day and returning home as the weather deteriorated.
"It was slow. I had a bigger one on but lost it," said Jerrid Meade shortly after weighing in a 4-pound, 7-ounce pike. "On this one, the tip-up didn't even go up. I was packing it up, reeling it in and it was on there. It was a nice surprise."
Brother Adam had a similar-sized pike that he brought to the scale.
"Caught it on a treble hook and a smelt," remarked Adam Meade. "I didn't have any luck inside using little jigs and minnows. No luck. It was so windy we had to strap the icehouse down. It was pretty good though. All in all, it was fun."
Fun and fundraising are what the tournament was all about. A percentage of the proceeds went to the Granville Masons. More than 50 tickets were sold for the event. However, said organizers, the weather limited fisherman participation to about half that number.
"I took my boys ice fishing in a blizzard. We had a great time fishing and have lots of stories to tell," said Lynn Meade.
Among those having fun was 8-year-old Larry Lundy of Granville. He brought a northern pike to the weigh-in house and watched carefully as the scale's digital display revealed the fish's weight - a nice fish but not quite big enough to win. No matter. Spending time on the ice is what was important, even in weather that caused others to stay at home.