The fish under the ice at West Lake will be happy, at least.
Avid fishermen, however, will be sad to learn the annual Rotary Ice Fishing Derby has folded up its tent after eight years.
The derby, organized and run by the Downtown Rotary club, was a hit from the first time volunteers drilled over 1,200 holes in the ice at West Lake in 1995.
Fishermen flocked to the lake in the early years, hoping to hook the biggest fish and take away the $10,000 first prize, the boat and motor for the second biggest fish, or an ATV, a trip to Vancouver or a number of other prizes.
“It lasted eight years, but the popularity has started to wane,” said Jim Douglas, chair of the derby. “I can’t really explain why, but if we don’t generate a positive financial return, we can’t do it just for the sake of doing it.”
The derby generated about $90,000 over the eight years, all of which was put back into Rotary-sponsored initiatives, including the skate park, water park, soccer fields, and the Rotary’s student bursaries and student exchange program, said Douglas.
“I just can’t believe the support from the business community for events like this. The people out at West Lake were super hosts, the parks department was great,” he said, listing off the dozens of organizations and hundreds of volunteers who helped put the derby on every year.
He noted businesses such as Bubba’s Bait Barn, which returned all proceeds from bait sales to the derby fund, and Prince George Toilets, which donated the use of portable facilities for participants. The New Caledonia Rotary club also helped the downtown club by running the “Burgers on Ice” concession stand.
It may consider re-starting the fishing derby in a year or two if community interest warrants it, he said.