Large turnout for annual winter derby

Amanda Jess
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GAIRLOCH LAKE – It was a perfect day to be on the lake.

Approximately 150 people piled onto the 14-inch thick ice to try their hand at fishing for the 7th annual winter derby, put on by the Pictou County Rivers Association.

“We haven’t gotten any fish, but that’s not what it’s about,” John Carrigan said.

Carrigan spends all his spare time ice fishing, and was attending the derby for the second time.

He sees it as an opportunity to get his son out of their home in Lochbroom.

Carrigan also brought an international student from Thailand to the derby, who was “freezing of course.”   

He finds the activity relaxing and peaceful.

Even with dozens of families out on the ice, it was fairly quiet.

The lack of noise is one of the reasons Bruce Holley enjoys it as well.

He’s been fishing for 40 years, and was attending his first derby with his daughter, Jody, and grandson, Luke Reddick.

“You’re not in town and not by a ringing telephone,” he said.

It was Jody and Luke’s first time out on the ice, and they’re more than ready to do it again.

They bought all the supplies, including a tent, rod and auger to drill into the ice, this week.

Jody heard about the derby in Reddick’s school newsletter at W.A. MacLeod Elementary, and wanted to give it a go.

Although they weren’t getting any bites, it didn’t stop Reddick from trying.

“He’s done his fair share,” Jody said.

He’s been involved with the association for various events, and says they do a lot for the rivers in the county.

The derby itself is to raise awareness of the group and what they do in the area.

It reaches out to the community, Shelby Dean said.

Dean is the secretary for the association and foreman of the restoration crew.

“We usually get a few members out of it too,” she said.

The non-profit organization does a number of projects involving education and enhancement of fish habitats.

The derby helps to get people interested in the sport without needing a license and is timed to fall on the free fishing weekend in Nova Scotia.  

They also offer free hot dogs and hot chocolate to participants, as well as giving them the opportunity to win prizes for the largest trout caught.

The association was very pleased with the turnout, said Kevin Dean, who has been involved with the group for six years.

“You have to have the weather, and it’s excellent.”

He suspects the derby is so popular in part because it’s a chance to get out in the fresh air.

It’s also a good family activity that “helps get the kids fishing.”

On Twitter: @NGNewsAmanda 

Organizations: Pictou County Rivers Association

Geographic location: Lochbroom, Thailand, Nova Scotia

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