February 28, 2014

Ice-fishing derby reels in chili chefs

Colby Classic touts $500 for prize fish

By KIM SMITH DEDAM Press-Republican

---- — SARANAC LAKE — The mayor here and a “sous chef” trustee are tackling winter’s chill with chili.

Their secret recipe will be served Saturday at the Colby Classic Ice Fishing Derby, a long-time fishing contest staged from the frozen shores of Lake Colby.

“We call it ‘9-1-1 Chili’ because some people —though not very many — may need to quench the ‘fire’ real fast after taking a bite and call for some emergency help,” Mayor Clyde Rabideau claimed of their spicy recipe.

“This Saranac Lake dish will definitely warm the ‘innards’.”

Chili Chef-du-jour is Trustee Tom Catillaz, who was having fun getting the chili pots ready on Thursday.

“This is the perfect dish to fight the freezin’ on a winter’s day,” he said via email.

“And we’re very thankful that we’re across the street from the emergency room at Adirondack Medical Center,” he joked.

Rabideau and trustees will serve their hot, winter-chill remedy at the Saranac Lake Fish and Game Club’s 30th-annual Colby Classic, which gets underway at 7 a.m. Saturday on Lake Colby.

Village officials-turned-lunch-cooks will start serving in the beach house at about noon.

They aren’t, however, revealing any spicy secrets.

“Let’s just say I’m not afraid of garlic or Frank’s Hot Sauce,” Rabideau allowed on Thursday, even as air temperatures dipped to some double-digit number below zero (again).


As for the ice fishing, it promises a few big ones.

Fish and Game Club President Dave Bodah said Department of Environmental Conservation officials tagged 15 fish last week and released them under the ice.

Anyone who catches a Colby “prize” fish will win cold, hard cash.

“I know the fish that we put in this year are pretty big,” Bodah told the Press-Republican. “The salmon tagged is about five pounds and worth a $500 prize. The others, trout and splake, are close to two pounds and worth $100 to anyone who catches one.”

Cash prizes are donated from local business sponsors.


The Colby Classic is a major draw for families and both novice and experienced anglers.

In this its 30th year, Bodah said, some families that have been coming to the Colby Classic since the start.

“They had kids, and now their kids have kids. Sometimes, there are four generations out there fishing. We have some people who have been to every derby since it started.”

The ice on Lake Colby is 2 to 3 feet thick from the extreme cold this winter. So most people use power augers to drill down to the water.

A hand auger works, Bodah said; it just takes a little longer.

“One of our prizes is a power auger. With the ice as thick as it is, people will probably be buying a lot of raffle tickets for that one.”

The grand prize this year is a chartered fishing trip for five on Lake Ontario with Fish Doctor Charters, based in Mexico, NY.

“To win the grand prize, the names of first-place winners — all eight of them — get thrown into a hat, and one name is drawn,” Bodah said.

Email Kim Smith


Pre-register for the Colby Classic at Blue Line Sports on Main Street in Saranac Lake or register on Saturday, March 1, starting at 6:45 a.m., at the Beach House on Lake Colby, off Route 86, just north of the Village of Saranac Lake.

Registration costs $7 per day for adults or $10 for both days; and $3 for one day for youth or $5 for both days.

Adults need a current fishing license to participate, though youths under age 16 are not required to have one. Licenses are available at Blue Line Sport Shop and other sites.

Fishing categories are: pike, trout, salmon and perch. The trout, salmon and perch have to be caught in Lake Colby, but the pike can come in from surrounding lakes and ponds. The pike has to be alive when brought in.

Winning fish are measured by weight, and prizes are awarded for both youth and adult categories.