The Bay of Quinte is world renowned for its great open water fishing which includes incredible spring & fall walleye and summer bass fishing. But look out because winter ice fishing is becoming increasingly popular! Anglers can catch jumbo perch, pike and walleye throughout the ice fishing season which usually starts mid-January and goes strong until the end of February depending on winter temperatures and ice conditions.
On February 10th, 11th and 12th, 2017, Merland Park Resort will kick-off its 8th Annual Ice Fishing Derby Weekend! The resort fills up with customers from all over Ontario, Quebec and the United States who make the journey to Picton loaded up with ice huts, fishing gear, warm clothes, great attitude, generous hearts and eager to have fun! The tickets are $300 which includes two nights’ accommodation, pulled pork dinner on the Friday night and fish fry on the Saturday night as well as entry into the derby and a chance to win close to ten thousand dollars in prizes, generously donated by more than twenty sponsors from all over Prince Edward County and eastern Ontario.
Proceeds from the derby entry fee go to the local Kiwanis Club. Over the past five years, the derby has raised and donated close to $10,000 to the Kiwanis Club’s Terrific Kids Program. The Kiwanis volunteers come out to lend a hand serving coffee and helping to organize the on-ice games. They make a significant contribution to ensuring the derby is a huge success. Local media comes out to take pictures and cover the events that take place on the Saturday and of course the fishing!
Anglers bring in loads of perch and the occasional walleye and pike can be caught as well. The action on the bay is exciting with all the ATVs, snowmobiles, sleds and the pick-up hockey that takes place every year. Locals come out to support the fishermen, women and children who participate in the on-ice games whether it be swinging a golf club to see who gets closest to the hole, playing minnow to win it or the very brave who take their shirts off to compete and see who will land the first fish on their hook. All this is in the spirit of good sportsmanship, winter adventure and giving back to the community. The On Ice Games, which begin at 1:00 p.m., will be open to the public again this year who will be able to get it on the action for a $20 entry fee which will go directly to Kiwanis and they too can have a chance to win some awesome prizes! What a great way to spend a winter weekend.
Picton Bay, where the event is held, is ideal for the ice derby not only because perch are plentiful but because of the excellent conditions it offers. There is very little current, which allows the open water to freeze a good eight to ten inches by the end of January and makes the ice thickness very safe to travel and fish on.