Resort stages great ice derby

For ice anglers from Sioux Narrows and surrounding areas, the last weekend in January has grown into a tradition with the annual Crystal Harbour Ice Derby on Regina Bay.
Once a two-day event that was started in the early 1990s, it has evolved into a one-day competition where anglers can fish wherever they want on Regina Bay and try to bring in the largest fish they can to the scales (alive, of course).
After the day of fishing, Crystal Harbour Resort in Sioux Narrows puts on a great steak dinner and there is always a good party after that somewhere in town.
I fished the tournament for years, starting when I was around 14 or 15. Jess Swenson grew up in Sioux Narrows and was the same age as me. He and I were great friends in high school and this was the weekend we looked forward to most all winter.
Over the last several years, I’ve missed the tournament a few times because of my travels south to chase bass around. As I write this column, I’m in Florida getting ready for my first FLW Tour bass tournament of the year on Lake Okeechobee.
But if I were around, I would have been there on the weekend to put in my two cents.
My parents recently moved to Sioux Narrows so my Dad decided to fish the tournament this year with a few buddies. He was the lucky angler in the 81-person field because the 14-pound pike he caught ended up winning the derby.
My good fishing pal, Jamie Bruce, took second with an 11-pound lake trout.
If you are looking for something to do next year in late January, be sure to mark this event on your calendar—it’s always a fun day.
Thanks to Crystal Harbour for continuing to put this event on every year for everybody.
Meanwhile, after a couple of days of practising at Lake Okeechobee in preparation for the tournament, which starts tomorrow (Feb. 4), I’m kind of still scratching my head.
The fishing has been really tough for me. The water is a couple of feet higher than it’s been in the past, so it’s almost like a completely different lake.
These lakes in Florida all are very shallow so adding a couple feet of water to them makes a huge difference. The weather has been unstable for the past couple of weeks, as well, so I’m sure that isn’t helping.
Whatever the reasons for the tough fishing, there still are no excuses. The fact remains that Okeechobee is one of the best largemouth bass lakes in the world, so you can expect to see some giant limits of fish brought to the scales tomorrow but there will be a lot of not-so-good catches, as well.
I’m hoping my fish this weekend are part of the giant category of limits.
Over the past couple of days, I’ve fished through most of the areas that I have done well in the past, so my last day of pre-fishing before the tournament is going to be spent exploring new water—hoping to find the mother lode somewhere.
I’m optimistic I can put something together on game day; that’s part of the challenge of fishing tournaments. But I would love to see a few hints in the right direction on my final practice day.
Some 170 anglers are fishing this event that kicks off tomorrow. Weigh-ins can be watched online starting at 3 p.m. (ET) on flwfishing.com
Wish me a little bit of luck. I might need it for this one!

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