Almost 300 anglers compete in Ice Extravaganza

Ashlyn Jokinen took top spot in the lake trout category for this impressive 36.25-inch laker hauled in early in the derby. The fish had a lot of significance for Ms. Jokinen, widow of the late Kyle Jokinen, who passed away in a fishing tragedy last spring. She dedicated the fish to the memory of her husband and his fishing friend, Dave Adamczak.

Over $11,000 in cash handed out to top three in five categories

NORTHERN ONTARIO – Sunday, February 28 marked the final day of the first-ever Northern Ontario Ice Extravaganza, which began on February 12 and saw 290 anglers from across the North take part for a chance at winning some amazing cash prizes and showing off their fishing prowess.

The Ice Extravaganza was a team effort created by Wikwemikong Tourism, The Manitoulin Expositor and Fish Manitoulin and the Wiikwemkoong Anglers’ Club which sought to temporarily replace the popular Manitoulin Ice Showdown during pandemic times.

“The beauty of the Ice Extravaganza was that anglers could fish anywhere from Zone 14 to Zone 10 to South Bay and Zone 13, allowing you to fish right in your own backyard and not travel, as per COVID-19 restrictions,” said Dave Patterson of The Expositor and Fish Manitoulin. 

Anglers simply had to take a video of their fish as it was measured, which clearly showed the measurement courtesy of a bump board or tape measurer, say the magic ‘jig it up’ password, and make every attempt at letting the fish go, providing it was not too stressed or injured.

“People thought a lot of the live-release format of this derby, which stressed sustainability and conservation, which our organizations are all about,” added Dustin Peltier of Wikwemikong Tourism.

The live leaderboard at FishManitoulin.com, which is updated on a constant basis as videos are sent in, also provides incentive as to which fish are ‘keepers’ or not, thereby not stressing the fish further by keeping it out of water longer than necessary if it’s obvious it won’t make the top three, Mr. Patterson noted.

The popular FishManitoulin.com website received an impressive almost 19,000 page views over the course of the two-week derby.

The organizers noted that most of the winning fish were caught in Manitoulin’s territorial waters, a great testament to the amazing fishing to be had on Manitoulin Island.

“The derby was also a great way to keep our Island top-of-mind in the off season too, always hammering home the idea that Manitoulin fishing is where it’s at,” Mr. Patterson said.

The top three winners in the five categories are as follows with each first place taking home $1,300, $650 for second and $325 for third:

Rainbow trout: First, Carter Abotossaway, 27.5 inches; second, Alex Peltier, 27 inches; third, Tiffany Opolko, 26.25 inches. There were 21 video submissions in this category.

Walleye: First, Keith Lacroix, 33 inches; second, Aaron Case, 30.5 inches; third, Jeremy Logan, 30.10 inches. There were nine entries in the walleye category.

Pike: First, Jason Paquette, 41 inches; second, Jeremy Logan Newman, 39.75 inches; third, Jerry Burke, 39.75 inches. There were 14 entries in the pike category.

Whitefish: First, Moe Gauthier, 24.75 inches; second, Phil LeBrocq, 24.75 inches; and third, Marcie Hughson, 24.75 inches. There were 17 entries in this category.

Lake trout: First, Ashlyn Jokinen, 36.25 inches; second, Jamie Tyson, 35.75 inches; third, Adam Tyson, 34.5 inches. There were 12 entries in the lake trout division.

Ms. Jokinen’s winning fish was not only significant in size, but significant in meaning. Ms. Jokinen is the widow of the late Kyle Jokinen, who perished in a tragic fishing accident in Kagawong last spring alongside his friend David Adamczak. The two were well-known members of the Northern Ontario fishing community and supporters of the Manitoulin Ice Showdown.

Ms. Jokinen told The Expositor there was a great deal of adrenaline when she hooked into her winning fish, which took half an hour to land, and caused her reel to fall off at one point during the fight.

She knows that her husband’s spirit had a lot to do with that winning lake trout, a testament to the man and the sport he loved best, and a fisherman’s gesture in honour of Valentine’s Day, the day the fish was caught. 

“That’s what meant the most,” Ms. Jokinen, who hails from Whitefish, added. “There was definitely a reason I got that fish.”

Ms. Jokinen gave birth to a little girl in the fall, Isla, and when she’s old enough, her mother can’t wait to instill the love of fishing that meant so much to Isla’s father. Isla turned four months on Sunday.

Despite her best efforts, the fish did not survive, and Ms. Jokinen is having the trophy laker mounted.

“It was for sure an experience, and I couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” she added.

Mr. Patterson and Mr. Peltier said they spoke for all the organizations involved in the Ice Extravaganza when they thanked all those participants who helped make the virtual derby such a success.

Stay tuned for upcoming derbies via the Fish Manitoulin Facebook page and FishManitoulin.com.