Countdown is on for 2021 Ice Extravaganza fishing derby

Luke with a pair of solid whitefish.

NORTHERN ONTARIO—A recent spell of consistently cold weather has been doing a good job of thickening the ice cover on many waterways across Northern Ontario, a promising sign as the opening date for this year’s Northern Ontario Ice Extravaganza draws nearer.

“We’ve had a lot of interest in this year’s virtual derby so far and I’m sure a lot of anglers are pretty stoked about the weather forecast these days,” said derby co-organizer Dave Patterson. “Tonight (January 27) it’s going to be -28°C!”

The COVID-19 pandemic led Wikwemikong Tourism and The Manitoulin Expositor to cancel this year’s Manitoulin Ice Showdown, a popular annual event that brings scores of ice-fishers to Manitoulin and last year featured the celebrity firepower of Bob Izumi as a special guest.

For 2021, in keeping with public health guidance, the team shifted this year’s event to a virtual format, allowing anglers to wet a line on their favourite waterway close to home. This has reduced the need for travel and will prevent large gatherings like the usual format of the event.

“We’re still full-speed ahead this year and it’s shaping up to be a good event,” said Mr. Patterson.

He urged all anglers to check ice thickness before heading onto the hard water, and to be familiar with the area they’re going. Ice thickness can vary widely across a body of water, so it’s important to know how much structure you have under your feet at all times. Remember, you need a minimum of four inches of ice for ice fishing and five inches for a snowmachine.

Buy your tickets today at FishManitoulin.com for the two-week derby. Tickets cost $60 and the derby runs from Friday, February 12 until Sunday, February 28. Tickets are also available at The Manitoulin Expositor Office in Little Current, Wikwemikong Tourism Office in Wiiwkemkoong and Moxy’s Bait and Tackle in Lively.

Full rules, regulations and details are also available at the Fish Manitoulin website.

Start planning your strategy today! We can’t wait to see your big catches.