By EVE BYRON - Independent Record - 01/27/08
George Lane, IR staff photographer - Eight-year-old Thomas Kauzlarich of East Helena sits and waits for a perch to swim by and take his jig. Matt Miller’s whoop rang out across Canyon Ferry Reservoir Saturday as he hoisted a fat perch out of the ice, then tossed it into a pile with four others.
“I’ve been out here all morning and they just started hittin’ now,” Miller said, hoping to catch one big enough to win the Broadwater Lions’ Perch Derby. “This one’s a big boy; it’s the biggest one I’ve got.”
But it wasn’t big enough. Cole Murphy walked into the Silos RV Park and Store with a 1.09-pound perch, then walked away with first place and a $363 pot.
Skylar Sullivan took first place in the kids category with his 0.91-pound perch; he won $52.
Randy Christiansen took home $100 for catching the biggest ling, a 3.58-pounder measuring 20 inches long.
Derby officials said 309 adults and 84 youths paid the entry fee ($5 and $2, respectively) to participate in the fundraising event. Proceeds go toward programs to aid people with sight and hearing impairments.
Both the number of participants and the size of the fish were better than last year.
Derby entrants were only a small percentage of the hundreds of anglers spread over the ice at the south end of Canyon Ferry on Saturday, with many driving all-terrain vehicles, trucks and even a motor home onto the 16-inch-thick ice that boomed and popped under the shifting, frozen cap.
The Ripley family of Bozeman — mother and father Amy and Mills, plus Ben, 6 — braved the blustery winds to venture out for a few trout and perch, and maybe a little skating.
Walt Schaible of Winston poked his nose out of his fish house to say he’d been on the ice since Monday, and was hoping for a few trout to take home for dinner.
“According to the biologists, the fish are out past the pressure ridge near Hole in the Wall,” Schaible said a bit wistfully, adding that it is a pretty good hike from where he’d set up his shack. “If I get a chance, I’ll move farther out and maybe try to catch a few ling.”
Ellen Kauzlarich, 12, and her brother, Thomas, 8, of East Helena jigged a few lines under the watchful eye of their dad, Mike. They hadn’t had but a nibble by noon, but figured they were sure to take home a prize regardless, since the Broadwater Lions had a table full of door prizes for kids, as well as a few for adults.
Mike Kauzlarich has fished in the perch derby a couple times, and recalled “catching them like crazy” in years back, so he was cautiously optimistic that their luck would change soon. And if it didn’t, he was still having a good time with his family outdoors.
“I read this was coming up in the paper, and thought we’d have to come out,” he said. “It’s not too cold, and this is a good excuse to be out and have fun with the kids.”
The derby continues today, with a four-person team competition and prizes going to the team with the most pounds of perch.