Colby is stocked and ready

SARANAC LAKE – State Department of Environmental Conservation fisheries workers put some prize-winning fish into Lake Colby Friday afternoon.

The fish were stocked for the 30th annual Colby Classic Ice Fishing Derby, a fundraiser for the Saranac Lake Fish and Game Club that takes place Saturday and Sunday, March 1 and 2.

Ken Klubek, a fish culturist at the Adirondack Hatchery in Lake Clear, said seven rainbow trout, two splake and six salmon were placed in the water. The fish ranged in weight from 1.5 to 5 pounds, with the rainbows being the largest fish.

Klubek said the fish were put in the water a week ahead of time “so they can acclimate a little longer.

“We started doing this a few years ago,” he said. “This gives them a little better use to get used to (the water) and spread out a little.”

Dave Bodah, president of the Saranac Lake Fish and Game Club, said the derby usually attracts between 250 and 300 people. He expects the numbers to be strong again this year because the club did some extra advertising and got some help from the village, which provided a derby sign that was placed around the village.

The fishing derby has numerous categories for contestants, including ones for pike, perch, trout and salmon. All of those fish must be caught in Lake Colby except for pike, which may be caught on area lakes. There are no pike in Lake Colby. Adult first-place winners get $100 while children get $75 for winning a category.

“They put in some really huge ones this year, but normally (the winners) are up around 2 pounds for the trout and salmon category, probably a pound, a pound-and-a-half for the perch category,” Bodah said.

Winning or placing in a category is just one of numerous ways to come away with prizes in this event. There are raffles, and prizes are given for catching the fish that were stocked Friday. Fourteen are worth $100, and one is worth $500 during the weekend of the derby. Each stocked fish caught after the weekend is worth a $25 gift certificate at Blue Line Sports in Saranac Lake. Winners must produce the fish’s tags to collect prizes.

“We definitely want to thank the local merchants in Saranac Lake for sponsoring us,” said Cecilia Martin, chairwoman of the derby, “either sponsoring a fish or donating door prizes, helping donate with raffle items and definitely thanking the village of Saranac Lake for letting us use the beach house.”

Martin also emphasized that the fishing derby is a family-friendly event that is open to all levels of anglers. People who don’t know how to ice fish are also welcome to come down and learn about the activity. That’s always been the case.

“It started that guys wanted something to do and get some people out to teach them how to ice fish and basically look for a winter fundraiser for the club,” Martin said. “But the basic part of it was to do a family event and teach ice fishing to people because, as you know, if you don’t get out here in the winters, they can be long. That’s how it started back then, and it’s been going ever since.”

The derby takes place from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, and prizes are given out at 4:15 p.m. People can pre-register for the derby at Blue Line Sports or show up the days of the event. The cost is $10 for the weekend for adults and $7 for children.