Ontario Ice Fishing Challenge wraps up, Sioux Lookout finishes in 6th place
Mike Lawrence - Staff Writer
It was a valiant effort. After holding on to the fifth spot for most of February, Sioux Lookout ended up bumped down to sixth place as the month-long Ontario Ice Fishing Challenge wrapped up at the end of February. Ignace took over fifth place with 4677 points to Sioux Lookout’s 4,407. Of our local anglers, longest Northern Pike went to Greg Marino with a length of 112.4 cm. Second longest Northern Pike went to Derrick Sawdo at 111.8 cm, and third went to Micheal Labelle at 106 cm. Marino also took first locally with longest walleye at 65.4 cm, while most species caught went to Matt Miller at 15.
Sioux Lookout’s points came from a total of 380 catches over the course of the month, compared to Ignace which recorded 74.
Although Sioux Lookout got bumped out of the top five across the province, Sean Simmons, the Founder and President of MyCatch and Angler’s Atlas, which runs the On Ice tournament, felt the town had put in an impressive showing, saying, “In some respects you guys knocked it out of the park for individual species. If you look at the leader boards for lake trout and northern pike, you guys dominate the leader board. It was really amazing to see the scale of the fish. I mean, Sioux Lookout here we come!”
For Simmons, the end of the challenge isn’t the end of the work for his team, as he explained, adding “It’s all prizing and its just chaos right now, we have to check every number. We’ll have both members of the team to do that, and we’ll be making sure the prizing payouts are good. For the local prizing, there’s a huge amount of work associated with that, and (the Ice Fishing Challenge) is closing all across the country. The Manitoba event closed, the Ontario event closed, so it creates a certain challenge.”
Simmons confirmed that also wrapping up were the BC Challenge as well as the Slave Lake Slam in Northern Alberta.
While Sioux Lookout didn’t manage to maintain the fifth-place position in the end, the area still was well represented, with Simmons noting, “If you look at the top three positions for longest northern pike, Greg Marino and Derrick Sawdo are in the one and two spots. Longest lake trout, Sioux Lookout again took the top two spots with Steve Dumonski and Greg Marino.” Simmons went on to add, “You guys were punching above your weight, because typically the point system is a combination of where you place on the leader boards plus the total number of people from your community participating, so I know Chapleau came out on top but they had a number of people in their community who fish, you guys had 6th place with only 11 members.” When asked about his final thoughts on this year’s challenge, Simmons continued, “I was surprised by the size and the scale of those fish. It was just amazing. Right now, after this weekend we’ll probably go out and have several drinks and take a breather. Then we’ll have a little bit of a lull and then the spring season kicks in. This is the first year we’ve had Sioux Lookout on here so, not a bad first appearance.”
Brian P. MacKinnon is Manager of Corporate Services / Municipal Clerk for the Municipality of Sioux Lookout, which promoted the Ontario Ice Fishing Challenge. Reached after the Challenge had wrapped up, Mackinnon responded, “The Municipality would like to thank all of our local anglers who took part. We were up against some strong competition, but still finished 6th out of 29 communities. Congratulations to the Township of Ignace, who came from behind in the final week to bump Sioux Lookout out of 5th place. It was a great showing for our first time in the competition. We look forward to taking part in the 2023 tournament, and hope for even greater participation – maybe some nicer weather too!”
Final Ice Fishing Challenge results and top anglers can be viewed online at https://bit.ly/3MzsY6z.