Buffalo Lake was a busy place over the Family Day long weekend.
Registration for the first-ever Big Jack Classic Ice Fishing Derby kicked off on Feb. 17 at the Rochon Sands Community Hall, and fishing took place over Feb. 18 and 19.
The Stettler Regional Board of Trade (BOT) organized the event, and according to BOT executive director Byron Geddes the event surpassed all expectations.
When planning for the event was started, organizers felt that if they reached 150 participants the events would have been a success.
By the time registrations stopped trickling in on Feb. 19, over 360 registrations had been accepted and the initial offering of $4,000 in prize money had escalated to over $10,000.
The event was split into a senior and junior divisions.
Winning $2,500 for the longest catch overall of a Northern Pike with a fish of 102.5 cm was Jayden Richaud, with Peter Kendrick picking up $1,500 and second-place with a fish 93.3 cm long.
In the youth division, Michael Walgenbach picked up $750 and top prize for his 82-cm-long fish. Picking up $500 and second place was Auria Shoemaker with a catch of an 80-cm Northern Pike.
In addition to the top prizes, a number of random draws were held over the weekend as well.
Also, returning for 2023, as part of the fishing derby was the “Freezin’ for a reason” polar-plunge.
According to Geddes, around a dozen registered to brave the frigid waters of Buffalo Lake to raise money for lake search and rescue equipment.
The hole in the ice was prepared by members of Stettler Regional Fire Department, who were also on hand with EMS to provide safety for those taking the plunge.
While most of the money went back to prizes, some of the money from the event will be donated back to south-shore lake development.
The Big Jack Classic’s second-edition is already scheduled for Feb. 17-18, 2024.