Montana Derby Attracts Over 200 Anglers

The 40th annual Smith Lake Ice Fishing Derby held west of Kalispell, Montana on Saturday, January 8 attracted a large crowd of over 200 anglers ranging from 1-80 years old. 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, chili, and other items.

"This is a great family event," said Warren Illi of the Sunriser Lions Club. "What pleased me in particular on Saturday is that we had a number of mothers out here with their kids having a good time. That's the future of fishing."

More than a foot of ice on the lake provided a safe event for all participants. About 40 ice fishing shelters dotted the lake surface, reflecting the strong turnout. Anglers landed pike and perch on tipped with maggots or smelt.

Illi manned the weigh-in table set up for anglers to check in their catch in hopes of winning a prize. Winners included:

Largest Pike: Dick Hembd, 4.16 pounds;
Smallest Pike: Johnny Cook, 0.46 pounds;
Largest Perch: Terry Riley , 1.22 pounds;
Smallest Perch: Zack Reimitz, 0.03 pounds.

The Sportsman and Ski Haus of Kalispell provided prizes and maggots. Walleyes Unlimited provided 75 fishing rod-and-reel combinations for kids and for those who needed a rod. Flathead Wildlife, Inc., the local conservation club, offered a grand prize for the largest pike of a $50 gift certificate to the Sportsman Ski Haus.

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