Lac du Bonnet’s 16th annual Ice Fishing Derby is coming up next weekend, February 24.

This year, they have $60,000 in cash and prizes, and the winners are determined through hidden length and time. 

General Manager for the derby, Darlene Lamoureux, explains what that means.

“We randomly select the hidden length and time of a fish prior to the derby. Once we gather up all the fish that are caught and their times and lengths are recorded, we determine who the winners are based on the random length and time generated earlier.” 

People measuring a small fish

$26,000 cash is split amongst five winners closest to the hidden length and time. 1st place gets $15,000, 2nd place gets $5,000, 3rd place gets $3,000, 4th place gets $2,000 and 5th place gets $1,000. 

They also have plenty of prizes to be won provided by multiple sponsors, for example, the ‘Longest Fish’ prize donated by Eagle Nest Lodge, where someone will win a trip for two to Eagle Nest valued at $3,000, and the ‘Last Fish Caught’ prize donated by Cabin Life Rentals, where you can win a two-night stay for 10 people valued at $1,200.  

Lamoureux notes that everyone who attends has a chance to win, even if they don’t catch a fish, as they have over 20 prizes that are won by the random selection of admission tickets. 

Not only do they give out big prizes each year, but they also see a big turnout. 

Last year they had 1,210 people show up to fish, and 116 fish were caught. 

Lamoureux says her favourite part of the derby is how it brings the community together. 

“I like seeing so many people coming into our community and all of our community members being so welcoming and having them come out to help this event be the success that it is.” 

A family fishing

She also enjoys setting up the derby on the morning of the event. 

“It's just such an awesome site first thing in the morning to see all our augers out on the ice. We pre-drill all the holes, so we have 40 volunteers that come out and use our fleet of augers and they drill.” 

Lamoureux says last year the volunteers drilled 2,050 holes in less than an hour. 

“As the sun is rising up over the river that is the coolest thing to see.” 

She says the turnout is incredible every year, along with the lively atmosphere. 

"Throughout the day you can stand at the top of the hill and look at this sea of people bustling, and fishermen and people running, and the announcements." 

This year, they are trying something new, which is entertainment following the derby. 

The Lakeview Hotel has extended their liquor permit onto the street to allow for an outdoor patio. 

“And we have hired The One Man Band to be entertaining people following the derby out on the street, so it's going to be like a festival vibe, and it's just something new we're trying this year.” 

Lamoureux notes the event helps raise money for the community.  

After the derby, they post a grant application form on their website, and different organizations can fill out the form and send it in.  

“Last year we granted out $10,000 to five different organizations, and we pay our volunteers $18 an hour.” 

They have about 115 volunteers that volunteer for their organization.  

"We record who has worked and how many hours, and then we write a cheque to that organization for their time that they helped us at the derby,” she says. “We cannot do this derby without the help of all the volunteers in the community, and it is a major fundraiser for some of these organizations.” 

They also give out two $1,000 bursaries for grads. 

The Lac du Bonnet Ice Fishing Derby is on Saturday, February 24. 

Registration is at Lakeview Hotel, just across the street from the town dock. 

To buy tickets ahead of time, visit You can also buy tickets the day of the derby at the registration desk in the Lakeview Hotel, or online. 

Registration starts at 8am and the derby starts at 10am.

Keeping warm