Tom Dixon and his 8-year-old son Josh were on a mission Sunday while ice-fishing on Mariaville Lake. The objective: Reel in dinner.
By 11 a.m., Dixon had caught two perch, both around 12 inches, but he wasn’t satisfied.
“We’re going for Sunday dinner,” the Rotterdam man said. “We’re hoping there is a school of perch under here and maybe a few big ones that would be good to eat.”
Dixon’s son was competing in the second-annual Kids Fishing Derby sponsored by the Schenectady County Conservation Council. Twenty-five sets of kids and parents competed in the event.
For those without fishing gear, the Conservation Council drilled the holes and set kids up for fishing, including bait. Entrance into the competition was free, and anyone younger than 15 was eligible.
Not everyone on the lake had as much success as the Dixons. Dan Perdziak, of Milton, and his 7-year-old daughter Hannah were still empty-handed after fishing for close to three hours.
Perdziak wasn’t discouraged, however, saying he was enjoying the outdoors and fresh air.
“Hey, I’ll admit it’s been a little slow today but we’re still having fun and getting to spend some quality time together,” said Perdziak, an experienced ice fisherman. “It’s great that they have an event like this where the kids can be outdoors and just really have a good time.”
Perdziak added ice fishing breaks up the monotony that often comes with the cold winter months.
“Sometimes sitting on the couch just gets old, doing activities outside passes the time until the spring comes and we can get back outside when the weather is warmer.”
Persistence paid off: The father-daughter duo soon hauled a bass out of the frigid depths.
After weeks of temperatures in the single digits, Conservation Council Vice President Ray Gawlas said the ice atop the lake was the thickest in recent memory.
“It’s about 2 feet thick,” he said. “You could drive a tank and hundreds of cars on this and you’d be OK.”
Gawlas said 42 kids competed in last year’s derby and speculated that the cold temperatures this winter contributed to the decline in attendance Sunday.
“I think the weather probably has something to do with it,” he said. “But even though there are less kids, more people are catching fish, so that’s a positive.”
Winners of the competition received Dick’s Sporting Goods gift certificates — worth $40, $30 and $20 — for the three biggest perch and pickerel.
Mariaville Lakeside Country Store provided pizza, coffee and a variety of snacks for all the competitors.
Brian Reese and his 5-year old son J.J. were hoping for a bite, a nibble or something to provide a glimmer of hope that they might reel in a fish. But by 11:30 a.m. Sunday they hadn’t had any luck.
“We’re not going to give up,” he said. “It’s chilly out here today but we’re still having a good time and just hoping something hooks onto our line.”
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