Despite the cold, windy and sometimes snowy weekend weather the Sheridan Rotary Club’s Inaugural Ice Fishing Derby at Lake DeSmet on Feb. 27, was a huge success.
Rob Forister, of the Rotary Club said, “We had almost twice as many participants as expected. The Game and Fish Department said they had never seen so many ice fishermen on Lake DeSmet.”
The Club’s initial estimate for participants in the derby was 200, but the number of people signing up was 376.
“There were people from Sheridan and Johnson Counties, of course,” Forister said. “But people also came from Gillette, as well Billings and South Dakota.
Prizes were award for the longest fish, which was a 23 ½ inch brown trout, caught by Chris Harmon from Buffalo Wyoming. He was awarded $1000 and had a chance for the $25,000 grand prize. Unfortunately the numbers of his fish weight did not match the numbers supplied by the prize company. According to the Rotary Press Release, Mr. Harmon was happy with his win.
“It was a great tournament, I’m really glad I won (especially since it was my wife’s birthday). Also, that fish allowed me to the “Master Angler” challenge award from the Wyoming Game and Fish. I can’t wait until next year to enter the Derby again.”
Foriester added that the Rotary Club raised around $25000, and it will be donated to several charities that focus on clean water. One is Frog Creek Gutters Bins, a Casper, Wyoming concern that manufactures bins to filter out impurities from the water in storm drains to make it safer to be returned to area streams. Joey’s Fly Fishing Foundation and Project School House, which provides clean water for third world counties, mainly in Central America were also recipients of the funds.
Prizes were also awarded in the Trout, Perch and Walleye categories. No Kokanee Salmon were turned in for measurement. Tagged fish were turned in for an automatic $50 prize. A total of $4100 was given to the various winners.
“We hope to have this Derby every year,” Foriester said. “We haven’t set a date yet, we want to make sure the Derby doesn’t fall on the same weekend as either the Buffalo Skijoring or the Sheridan County Winter Rodeo, so we will wait and see which date will work.”