By: Mike Anderson

Former Toronto Maple Leafs Captain Doug Gilmour helped launch this year’s Lake Simcoe Championship Ice Fishing Derby by signing hundreds of autographs, drawing prize tickets and posing for dozens of selfies at the Canadian Tire Keswick on Sunday, February 16.

The annual ice fishing derby now its fifth year under the stewardship of Canadian Tire owners Gary and Elizabeth Johnston was a huge success, with a record 173 teams taking part — up from 120 last year. The entry fee was $250 per team (2 anglers per team), which helped raise $43,250.

This year’s version also featured more than $95,000 in cash prizes, including a $10,000 prize for the biggest catch. There was also an ATV giveaway, which got a lot of folks excited.

And, yet another first, the public was able to purchase draw tickets online this year, which helped to boost sales substantially. The total raised this year for Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart charities was over $70,000, topping last year’s total of $59,000, which helped more than 2,000 local children participate in sports and physical activities.

Anglers headed onto the ice at 8 a.m. and fished until 1 p.m.— with weigh-in at 2 p.m at 50 Lake Drive North. No fishing license was required for Ontario residents for this event, so a lot of first-time participants took part, including Colson Schneider from Bradford, who caught 11 of the 12 perch and won third place with this dad Joe. “It was fun!” said Colson.

Joe and son Colson win 3rd Prize

Conditions could only be described at excellent with sunny skies and temperatures averaging a balmy -2 Celsius. The ice was also solid, and the perch were biting, mostly on minnows.

Putting on an event like this takes a lot of hard work and countless person-hours; indeed, Mr. Johnston was unable to estimate the total volunteer hours that were required, and his wife Elizabeth admitted that she got only two hours of sleep the night before.

Mr. Gilmour, an NHL fan favourite, also made a big effort, hopping on and off an Argo to visit anglers on the ice and pose for yet more selfies — always smiling and cheerful, even though he wasn’t really dressed for the elements.

Hockey fans seemed delighted to meet him and share a few minutes with one of their idols, including last year’s $10,000 first prize winners Tim Everson and Brad Dietrich. For Mr. Dietrich, it was a dream come true: “It was a great moment for me, meeting Doug Gilmour was amazing!”

Tim Everson, Doug Gilmour & Brad Dietrich



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