Maple Lake Ice Fishing Derby turns 40


Maple Lake’s annual Ice Fishing Derby is still the largest of its kind in the country according to derby marketing director Nick Olsen.
Ice Force gave it that title last year, and according to Olsen, it still holds true for the derby that on Saturday, January 31, will celebrate 40 years.
That’s because every year 7,500 to 10,000 people attend this arctic shindig for fishing, fun, an arctic plunge and a chance to win a fully loaded fish house.
This fish house is so nice, “it’s one step below the Bellagio (hotel) in Las Vegas. Minus the fresh flowers,” Olsen said.
The derby, which is different from a contest that charges a lot more for tickets and offers big prizes, is a fun way for the community to get together and raise money for some worthwhile causes, Olsen said, including the Boy Scouts, the Silver Creek Sportsman’s Club, the Maple Lake Fire Department and the Lake Association to name a few.
Tickets cost $5 and the fisher man or woman to catch the 40th largest pike wins the fish house.
“Historically the most inexperienced ice fisherman wins it,” Olsen said.
The Maple Lake Derby has always been unique in the way it determines its winner. It’s not just the biggest pike that wins the prize, its the 40th biggest pike, and every year that number changes depending on the age of the event. For example, last year the 39th biggest pike won the fish house.
More information appears in this week's Messenger.