Walleye Challenge fishing tourney canceled; prize give-away still a go

Bill Hassan of Northville checks on his bait during the 2019 Walleye Challenge on Great Sacandaga Lake. (The Leader-Herald/Eric Retzlaff)

MAYFIELD — To keep ice fishers safe from the dangerous conditions of the Great Sacandaga Lake, the fishing portion of the Walleye Challenge that was expected to take place on Saturday has been canceled.

Although the event, which attracts several hundred local residents and tourists, has been canceled, festivities including the Walleye Awakening and the prize give-away will continue to take place on Friday and Saturday.

The cancellation of the ice fishing contest is due to a break in the ice on the lake, which can be dangerous for anyone to walk on.

“Ice conditions haven’t changed in about three weeks,” said Louie Stutzke, owner of Fuel-n-food.

Stutzke said the ice isn’t reaching the 12 inches they want it to be at. He said the average has been at eight inches with some areas being as low as five inches and some areas being as high as 10 inches.

Another issue has been the warm temperatures that have prevented the ice from building up.

Stutzke said if the ice could have built up then the fishing challenge wouldn’t have been canceled, but the temperatures are expected to be in the upper 30s.

“We’re not going to have the 12 inches to feel safe,” Stutzke said.

He said another risk factor has been the split in the ice from Vandenberg Point to Deer Island, and from Frenchman’s Creek past the North side of Sand Island.

The split in the ice was caused from the lake being at record levels before it froze over, and it so far has been drained down six inches to prepare for when the ice melts in the spring, which is causing the ice to pull apart.

“This is a big safety issue,” Stutzke said.

He said with a break in the ice, along with the ice only being five inches in some areas, it could be dangerous for anyone to walk on or ride a four-wheeler on. However, Stutzke said the lake is in good condition for snow mobiles to ride on.

As the ice fishing event brings in hundreds of people, Stutzke said they still plan on having the Walleye Awakening event on Friday and the prize give-away on Saturday.

The Walleye Awakening will take place at Lanzi’s on the Lake on Friday at 5 p.m. The event will feature fireworks, a bon fire, food and drinks and live music by Our Secret Love Society.

Prizes will also be given away at Lanzi’s on the Lake at noon on Saturday. In order to claim door prizes, the winners have to be there and have until 5 p.m. to claim the prize; money prizes will be mailed out by check by the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce. At 4 p.m. Stutzke said they will do a drawing for the major prizes that include a 4-wheeler, an ATV, a side by side and a shanty and trailer.

By Josh Bovee

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