Big Jack Classic Ice Fishing derby at Buffalo Lake was a blast!
Getting to the Buffalo Lake Fishing Derby
Alberta Ice Fishing Tournament
Two online registrations were required for this derby, one on the Big Jack Classic site and one on the MyCatch Angler's Atlas app. And 1 in-person check-in prior to the start of the tournament. However, you'll want to make sure you are registered on both, but if you have any issues the group in charge of putting this all together is wonderful with helping work out any problems that might arise when trying to register. We had a couple of small setbacks trying to register 2 in our group, but they were taken care of swiftly and in a friendly manner long before we ever even arrived at the lake for tournament day. Grab some items you may need throughout the weekend such as fishing line, lures, bait, and much more for sale at the community centre. And don't forget to grab a ticket to the raffle draws available there before heading out. I also noticed food and beverages were available for purchase in the hall. Consequently, you could come to hang out and use it as a warm-up place throughout the weekend.
Driving on the Frozen Lake
Now the fun begins! Head out onto the lake and find your spot. Buffalo lake is a very large lake in Central Alberta with 93km² of water surface area. The only area off-limits during the tournament is a section called "The Narrows". An easily recognizable area on all maps and markers were out for easy recognition of the off-limits area. Therefore, any fishing in the narrows would not count toward the tournament. We drove out onto the lake from the Rochon Sands Marina boat launch, also home to a 6-meter-long northern pike statue! Don't forget when driving on any frozen body of water - seat belts off! In case a very quick exit is needed. While it's a fantastic fun time getting out on the ice, there are dangers that cannot be ignored in case of emergency. I have lost some friends to this exact scenario and everyone should be aware and prepared for the worst should it happen. Very unlikely though as long as you take your time and avoid ice heaves and are smart about how and where you drive on any frozen body of water.
We chose to park and set up right behind our lakeside AirBnB. Being steps away from the house while out ice fishing with the kids was a fantastic opportunity during this tournament a couple of hours from home. We quickly had our hut and heater set up and multiple holes drilled for everyone. It wasn't long before we started seeing the pike pass by on the underwater AquaVu camera. They didn't seem interested in what we had to offer the 1st day, but it's always neat to see them down there just cruising around. The tournament had a great start Saturday with an over 90cm Northern Pike on the leader board, keeping the lead since before we even arrived in the early afternoon.
On the second day of the derby, the fish were few and far between on the camera. Usually, I would bounce around and find somewhere else that's active, but with the kids, we decided to just simply move a few feet from where we were and see what we could find. We ventured over to the Freezin' for a Reason polar plunge and took a break from fishing for a little while. We stopped by the playground in Rochon Sands Provincial Park and then back to our ice hut for the remainder of the derby. Luckily, with 10 minutes left in the tournament, I pulled in a nice 70cm Pike. Although I was excited we finally caught one of the many fish in this lake, it was not enough to enter the leaderboard. At the time it would have been around 25th place if I submitted it, but the tournament rules said don't enter every fish, keep an eye on the leader board online, and only enter the top ones. Nonetheless, I was super happy to have landed a nice pike from Buffalo Lake. This was our first time ever fishing this lake and the house kind of picked where we were going to fish for the weekend, so it all worked out great.
In conclusion, we are hoping to be back in 2024!
Our group had a wonderful time and would like to thank everyone involved in putting on this ice fishing derby especially the Stettler Board of Trade & Community Development. Congratulations to the winner topping out the leaderboard with a 102.5cm Pike on the last day. Although we didn't place in this years tournament, we enjoyed our trip and we hope to return for the next Big Jack Classic on Buffalo Lake near Stettler Alberta in 2024.
See you at the Big Jack Classic Buffalo Lake Fishing Derby returning Feb 17 & 18 2024
Alberta Ice Fishing Events
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What a great article - I've never been ice fishing, and I learned so much from reading it! It sounds like such a fun event, and a great way to get the family outdoors for Family Day!
I definitely have not been fishing as much as usual since my little addition. And for this trip in particular, the lake side AirBnB is what made it possible really.