Healthy Lake derby hosts more than 540 anglers

The sixth annual version of the event raised about $12,000 for conservation and water quality initiatives at Pelican Lake south of Brandon.

Temperatures for the sixth annual Healthy Lake Ice Fishing Derby at Pelican Lake on March 2 may not have been cooperative, but more than 540 anglers braved a minus-30 degree windchill to raise money for the Southern Manitoba lake’s aeration system.

A total of 470 adults and 73 youth entered the 2019 version of the event, which was held at the north end of Pelican Lake near Ninette, Sask. The competition ran from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. with fishers filling the lake’s Northern Basin.

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Over the four-hour derby, 36 fish were measured, including 14 Northern Pike, 10 perch and 12 walleye. Kevin Gudz of Brandon caught the day’s longest fish, an 87 centimeter Northern Pike. The catch earned Gudz a 2019 Can Am Outlander 450 ATV.

In the Junior division, Amber Boulet of Treherne, Man. pulled up the longest fish of the day after catching an 84 centimeter pike. The fish gave Boulet a Perception Sport Swiftwater kayak.

Prizes were also handed out for all fish caught, and random draws were held for all anglers throughout the day.

“The approximate net income of the derby this year will be around $12,000,” said the Healthy Lake Committee’s Charlotte McConnell. “All of the proceeds go towards our projects in Pelican Lake, including the maintenance of our two aeration fields.”

Established in 2012, the Healthy Lake Committee promotes water stewardship and fish habitat maintenance while initiating projects and activities to improve the water quality of Pelican Lake and its watershed in the Rural Municipality of Prairie Lakes.

“One of our main goals is to determine the most efficient and effective ways for us to responsibly manage our lake waters and improve the health of Pelican Lake and, therefore, the ecosystem that is dependent upon the quality of the water in the lake,” said McConnell.

Broken down by species, the 6th annual Healthy Lake derby results include Gudz taking first in the Northern Pike competition, followed by Carson Gansekoele with an 85-centimeter pike and Rhonda Beare at 81 centimeters.

The largest perch was caught by Darrin Gitzel (33 cm) followed by Scott McDougald (32.5 cm) and Armin Gitzel (31.5 cm).

The top walleye fishermen were Allan Cuthbert in first with a 50 centimeter fish, Luke Mangin in second at 49 centimeters, and Dillon Grift in third with 48 centimeters.

Boulet was the lone junior angler to end the day with a fish on the ice.

Pelican Lake is located about 90 kilometers southeast of Brandon.

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