Smith Lake Ice Fishing Derby Attracts 348 Anglers

The event is put on by the Sunriser Lions Club as a public service to the community

By Beacon Staff
Dane Reynolds, a 4th grader in the Edgerton School Hooked on Fishing Program, caught the largest pike of the day, a 2.84-pounder. Courtesy Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

Nearly 350 anglers participated in the 45th annual Lions Club Smith Lake Ice Fishing Derby west of Kalispell on Saturday, Dec.

Event organizer Warren Illi, of the Sunriser Lions Club and Flathead Wildlife, Inc., estimated that youngsters comprised 50 percent of the crowd. The surface of Smith Lake looked festive with more than 100 portable ice shelters decked out in multiple colors.

Anglers landed several hundred small pike, a small number of perch, and one pumpkinseed on jigs tipped with maggots or smelt.

The event is put on by the Sunriser Lions Club as a public service to the community and as a way to make a modest amount of money to donate to family fishing pond programs. The Lions operated a food stand offering hamburgers, hot dogs, and other items.

“This is a great family event,” said Illi,.  “It was great to see so many kids catching fish.”

The first 100 youngsters who caught fish received an ice fishing rod and reel courtesy of Walleyes Unlimited. The Sportsman Ski Haus was a major sponsor, donating hundreds of dollars for prizes as well as bait for the event.  Flathead Wildlife, Inc. provided support, and many of their members helped at the event, which is held annually on the last Saturday in December.

Winners included:

Largest Pike: 2.84 pounds, Dane Reynolds (Fourth grade Hooked on Fishing Student from Edgerton School)

Smallest Pike: .41 pounds, Annie Wood

Largest Perch: 1.61 pounds, Willie Weseman (2nd place: 1.42 pounds, Dylon Hoff; 3rd place, 1.37 pounds, Haily Hoff)

Smallest Perch: .47 pounds, Drake Larkey

Other species: Pumpkinseed, .3 pounds, Jeff Nelson