The sun was shining, kids were playing, and anglers were enjoying the companionship of friends and family as they took part in the Annual Debbie Hill Memorial Ice Fishing Derby on March 20 on Bigwood Lake, hosted by the Sioux Lookout Anglers and Hunters (SLAH). Just over 100 tickets were sold for the event and according to event organizer BJ Egerter, “I think it was a good turnout.” “It’s been great,” he added. “I really like doing this and to get the help from our president and director of the range as well, families all pitched in, and we had lots of sponsorship and lots of prizes. Everybody was happy.” The anglers and hunters have been running the fishing derby for over a decade but had not been able to run it the past two years due to COVID-19 public health restrictions. “We really lucked out. Today was beautiful. Kids were running around in t-shirts; everyone was having a good time,” said SLAH President Jeremy Funk. “We talked a bit ago about getting back to things after COVID. Hopefully this is the kick-off to a really great 2022 Sioux Lookout Anglers and Hunters season with lots of events lined up here and this was nice to get the ball rolling,” he added. “On behalf of the club I’d just like to again thank everyone that came out today. It’s the community buy in that makes these events possible and another big hand to BJ, our organizer, who put a lot of time and effort into gathering prizes, making sure everything was in place, and the volunteers who came out to help,” Funk commented. Joseph Bernier had the big fish of the tournament, a Northern Pike weighing 3.30 pounds, netting him first place in the derby and a $1200 prize. “My wife changed my bait for me, and I ended up getting a nice one! It was exciting. Good to be with family and friends. A good time,” he shared. Taking second place and a prize of $500 with a Northern Pike weighing in at 2.77 pounds was Kelli George-Egerter. “It’s always fun,” she said of the derby. “Obviously my husband organizes it. We gather everything and do all the prep. It’s just great to see all the families out and kids playing.” Asked about her second place catch, she shared, “I didn’t think I was in the money. I caught my fish early on and it looked like there were bigger ones than I got. It was good. Kids had a great time. We always love coming out and seeing everybody.” Rounding out the derby’s top three prize winners was Gord Ford, who took home third place and $300 with his 2.16 pound Northern Pike. “It was awesome! Couldn’t have picked a better day. Prizes were awesome and I’ll be out next year for sure.,” he said. Commenting on his catch netting him third place he shared, “I didn’t expect it at all… I’m very shocked actually, but very happy.” Eleven fish, all Northern Pike, were caught during the derby. The derby featured three tables of prizes for fourth to eleventh place winners and event participants. “This year we decided we wanted to buy more than ask for donations. Typical COVID, everybody got hit really hard and we wanted to put the club money into the businesses rather than asking for it, so that’s what we did this year,” BJ Egerter said. “It’s nice to be able to give back to the community,” Funk added. Matt Miller’s 2.09 pound Northern Pike was good enough for 5th place. He said it was his first time attending the derby. “It’s good. Well run… good camaraderie out here. Everyone’s been friendly. It’s not a real hard core, serious fish derby, it’s more a relaxed one. The weather is fantastic. You couldn’t ask for a better day. The sun is shining, there’s no wind. The kids are having tons of fun. It’s great to see people out enjoying themselves. Back to normal life for the most part,” he shared. It was also Trudy Quoquat’s first time attending the derby. She was joined by her brother Freeman Ningewance. “It’s been a good experience to be out here. It’s fun and you get to spend time with family and visit with other people as well,” she commented., Bruce Van Horne, another derby participant, shared, “The last few months have been quite cold, so it’s unbelievably enjoyable out here. Sunshine, good friends, not the greatest fishing for me, but having fun.” “I’d just like to highlight the club activities coming forward. People can find pictures from today posted on our Facebook page and to follow the club throughout the year because we’ve got something going on almost every month,” Funk concluded.