The ice on La Porte lakes glistened in the sun early Saturday morning as several fishermen competed in the Helping Heroes Ice Fishing Derby.
The ice fishing derby was the final event in La Porte Park’s WinterFest, wrapping up the string of winter fun events that have been happening throughout this past frigid week.
Some of these events have included Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides, Community Zumba and Family Ceramics.
Today, over 60 fishermen met up at Cummings Lodge at 8 a.m. to register, before dispersing to Stone, Clear and Pine Lakes. Participants of all ages put their skills to the test to help support the Flyin’ Heroes. They competed for the grand prize in the longest panfish and gamefish. They also competed for the longest perch, bluegill, redear, bass, pike and crappie.
Fays Marina in La Porte paid the first $100 in children registration fees.
"This year's ice fishing derby has 30% of the registration fees going towards the charity, Flyin' Heroes. The Flyin' Heroes program really promotes therapeutic recreation and rehabilitation for our U.S. military veterans. They use the sport of fly fishing to embrace the healing powers of nature as well as fostering lasting relationships with other military veterans. We hope to raise some money for this great organization while providing some winter fishing fun for the people in our community and the surrounding communities," Recreation Director, Alison Zoll said.
At least $300 was earned for the Flyin’ Heroes program today.
At 2 p.m., cash prizes were awarded to winners in various categories based on registration fees. There were also prizes such as sleds and fishing poles awarded, door prizes distributed and other various prizes given to raffle winners.
Door prizes were awarded to Jason Shreves, Brayden Allen Strand, Cody Kring and Scott Strand Jr.
Mark Brown Jr. reeled in the longest pike of today, spanning 28 5/8”. Jamie Lade caught the longest perch with a length of 9 11/16”. Cody Downs pulled in a crappie measuring 10 9/16”.
Sixteen-year-old Cody Downs was also the recipient of the longest panfish. He has been fishing for two years now, and despite the cold weather conditions, he still managed to come out of this competition successful.
“It was pretty chilly out there, but it only takes one fish to be the winner,” Downs said.
Unlike Downs, fisherman Jeff Baney has been fishing for several years. It has become a hobby of his, and he and his friends enjoy doing together. Today, Baney caught ten fish in total.
“Today seemed like a good turnout. A lot of good, big fish were caught and I had a great time on Pine Lake,” Baney said.
At the end of the long day, all competitors were invited to eat a chili lunch sponsored by Christo’s Family Dining, to sit back, relax and dwell on their successes.