The cold was intense, so the fishing was in tents. SUBMITTED

Everything comes down to where you drill your hole.

Some participants described the fishing as “slow” at the Cold Lake Ice Fishing Tournament February 12 – 14, but there was enough action to keep them out on the ice.

In the end, Jason Laudin won for the biggest fish at 35 inches. Keira Kowalchuk won the Youth category with a 29.5-inch fish.

The only eligible species was lake trout.

The tournament reached its maximum participation limit of 400. Cathy Aust of Age Friendly Cold Lake, who helped run the event, said “we could probably have had another hundred. We were turning people away.”

Proceeds from the tournament support the Cold Lake Men’s Shed, and Aust said that while the numbers aren’t final, they are confident they raised what they were looking for to sustain the Shed for the year. 

Participants were drawn by the more than $20,000 worth of prizes and for the opportunity to fish one of Alberta’s most famous trout lakes. Aust said sponsorship support was ”amazing.”

“We had sponsors from Lloydminster, Edmonton, and as far away as Calgary,” she said. The event also drew participants from all over Alberta.

A group of visitors from Fort McMurray told Respect they were so impressed with Cold Lake they started checking out real estate listings.

It was a beautiful winter weekend on the lake: crisp and cold, and
not a cloud in the sky. Some participants camped out on the ice, enduring overnight temperatures of about -30°. Daytime highs reached approximately -15°.

Separate from the fishing prizes was a raffle for a one-of-a-kind, custom-built fishing shack. The shack was built by Men’s Shed members, and was won by Cold Lake businessman and city councillor Bob Buckle.

Planning begins soon for the second annual tournament in 2022.

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky all weekend as 400 participants dropped a line in looking for The Big One. Photos by JEFF GAYE