Darling derby not a dandy

FOXHOLM – Brutal fishing conditions proved too much to overcome for the region’s best anglers. The annual Souris River Basin Longbeards Fishing Derby was staged May 11 at Lake Darling, one day after a big wind removed all ice from the lake. The nasty north wind also blew warm water out of bays that fish had been frequenting prior to the derby.

When the air horn blew about 9:30 in the morning, the cluster of boats milling about the launch area jetted towards preferred fishing spots. Anglers expecting to encounter water temperatures of 50 degrees or more were greeted by temperatures of less than 40. The murky water warmed slowly throughout the day, but the fishing stayed cold. The combination of a big temperature change and very limited visibility due to muddy water runoff made fishing conditions miserable.

Tough fishing conditions are not unexpected early in the season. The Longbeards’ derby has experienced some rough days in the past, but the May 11 derby was one that won’t be forgotten. Only eight fish were caught – three northern pike, three perch and two walleyes.

“It was hardly a derby,” said Percy Ottmar, chairman.

A few fishermen succumbed to the futility of fishing and returned to the ramp prior to the end of official derby hours. Others stayed out until the final minute, hoping for the one bite that would make the difference between an empty livewell and a possible placement. The reality was, there was little an angler could do to improve the chances of catching a fish. Conditions were too tough.

Lake Darling needed more time to settle down and warm up after the big wind just prior to the derby. The spawn likely played a role too. Some pike were seen in the shallows, apparently spawning, just a few days prior to the derby. Fish don’t bite during the spawn and only return to feeding several days later.