Lakes ready for ‘Ice Showdown’ this Saturday and Sunday

Jess Wilkin is a former winner of the Wiikwemkoong Ice Fishing Derby.

$40,000 in cash prizes for new derby event

MANITOULIN—It’s the home stretch for the Manitoulin Ice Showdown taking place this weekend, February 9 and 10, on the frozen waters of Lake Manitou and Manitowaning Bay.

This first-of-its-kind ice fishing derby, the biggest in Manitoulin’s history, is thanks to a new collaboration between the Wikwemikong Ice Fishing Derby and The Manitoulin Expositor with $40,000 in cash and thousands of dollars in prizes up for grabs.

This year the derby covers all of Manitowaning Bay, including Heywood Island as the outermost boundary, and Lake Manitou. Fishermen can now fish anywhere they like on either of the lakes, but 300 pre-drilled holes will be available near Bayside Resort on Manitowaning Bay.

“It’s shaping up to be an amazing event,” says Luke Wassegijig, manager at Wikwemikong Tourism. “And the fishing has been phenomenal. We are hearing stories of great catches from both lakes. Things are definitely starting to heat up out there.”

One of the unique features of the Manitoulin Ice Showdown is that all (in season) species of fish can win. Prizes are awarded according to heaviest fish, be it rainbow trout, lake trout, walleye or even ling. In case of a tie in weight, the first fish caught will be declared the winner.

“Our phones have been ringing off the hook with serious interest,” adds Dave Patterson, from The Manitoulin Expositor. “Fishermen are really excited about this event and we are attracting serious anglers from around Northern Ontario and across Manitoulin. It’s a great boost for the economy during the winter months.”

Tickets for the Manitoulin Ice Showdown are $100 and are available for purchase at The Expositor Office and Breakaway Sports in Little Current, Up Top Sports Shop in Mindemoya, Wikwemikong Tourism, Your Dollar Store With More and Oak Ridge Place in Wiikwemkoong, Trailside Sports and Fishy Fishy Bang Bang in Espanola, Moxy’s Bait and Tackle in Lively, Ramakko’s Source for Adventure in Sudbury and online at wiikwemkoong.ca.

Cash only ticket sales will also be available until 12 noon on Saturday at the three Lake Manitou check-in stations (Holiday Haven Road and Scotch Line Road landings in Assiginack and at the Sandfield Government Dock) and at the Bayside Resort check-in location on Manitowaning Bay and at Your Dollar Store with More and Oak Ridge Place in Wiikwemkoong.

All anglers must register at one of the check-in stations on the lake on which they are fishing and can only fish that lake for the duration of the day. Failure to register means any fish caught cannot be weighed in. However, the fish does not have to be weighed in at the check-in station the angler originally reported to but rather can be weighed at whichever station is closest to the point of catch.

For a full list of frequently asked questions, please see Page 6 of this newspaper.

“The list of prizes is seemingly never-ending, from the generous donation of door prizes from businesses across Manitoulin and Espanola to the whopping cash prizes for first place to third place on each lake to the $10,0000 registration prize, which will be drawn Saturday night on Facebook Live,” said Expositor Publisher Alicia McCutcheon. 

Mr. Wassegijig notes that on top of all of that, on Manitowaning Bay, 50 tagged rainbow trout will be released at Bayside Resort and Buzwah Fisheries and the first angler to catch a tagged fish wins $5,000. And on Lake Manitou, a target weight will be announced Saturday morning, so stay tuned to the Manitoulin Ice Showdown event page. 

“The participant that catches the target weight will win themselves $5,000,” he adds. 

“The Pimp’d Hut is back this year, renamed the Big Trout Contest is open to any species of trout on either lake and, yet again, the amount of prizes on offer is staggering. Thank you to all of our sponsors for helping make the Manitoulin Ice Showdown a derby to remember.”

The farthest travelled prize this year will include a half day fishing charter with Screeming Reels, two Manitoulin Expositor Salmon Classic tickets, two nights’ accommodations with breakfast and dinner at the Manitoulin Hotel and Conference Centre and return passes aboard the MS Chi-Cheemaun. Prizes will be given out with a light lunch at the Wikwemikong Arena from 2-4 pm on Sunday, February 10. Anglers do not need to be present to win.

Manitoulin Ice Showdown organizers remind participants that no ice is safe ice and that anglers should not fish alone or in areas they do not know.

“We are hearing reports of some very slushy areas, especially on Lake Manitou,” Mr. Patterson said. “Fishermen are telling us that pressure cracks are also accompanied by water on both sides too, so please exercise extreme caution. If you don’t know, don’t go.”

Please visit the Manitoulin Ice Showdown events page this week to check for updates on the derby, ice condition reports and for a list of the many Island businesses who will be offering derby specials all weekend long.

For more information, including the rules, visit wiikwemkoong.ca or search ‘Manitoulin Ice Showdown’ on Facebook.

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