An update on last weekend’s ice fishing tournament, by Pseudo Sista.

People in this part of the country tend to talk about three things throughout the year: the weather, plans for July and the derby. Last weekend the population of Babb swelled, as fishermen from all around the state and Canada converged on Duck Lake in search of the longest fish. Derby time!

As a smorgasbord of ice houses, 4-wheelers and snow machines began to dot the lake in the early morning hours, the committed fishermen (and women) were bombarded with a steady breeze with recurring powerful wind gusts. Now the wind is nothing new for this area and most people rarely bat an eye when it blows 40 to 50 miles an hour. However, the winds continued to build and howl throughout the morning and I had never been so happy to be in a steel sided, sleeper cab ice house in all my life. Sanford and I were nice and snug blasting the heater while rocking out to satellite radio watching fish cruise by on the video camera monitor.

Unfortunately, our fishing partners were not quite as lucky. They were hunkered down in a collapsible ice house that could not battle the wind gusts of over 100 miles an hour. In Choteau they recorded a gust of 114 before the anemometer broke. If we were in a hurricane, winds that strong would be considered class 3!

This is Tony, Sara, Walt and Travis frantically trying to take down their ice house before it rips to shreds or is blown to the other end of the lake.

At one point, we were sitting in the 1,000 pound ice house and it moved 3 feet off our holes. I screamed, grabbed on for dear life and began reeling in my line. That was the end of our fishing for the day.

Don’t worry the hurricane force winds did not put a damper on our party. We moved into the ware-home for a lovely picnic lunch of grilled brats, hotdogs, hamburgers and, of course, a few warm adult beverages.

The wind literally blew apart a cabin at the Duck Lake Campground sending pieces of the building catapulting into the air.

before and after

After a little slip on the ice, the wind blew San about five feet down the lake on his tush. Thank goodness for little drifts of snow or we would have had to retrieve him with a 4-wheeler.

Despite the gale force winds and lack of actual fish that we snagged, the weekend was not a total loss. We got to spend some time in the 100 year old tack barn Saturday night and watch the walls sway and bend as it withstood the wind. In order to pass the time we started a little ping pong tournament.

Now, I don’t claim to be an expert angler or particularly good at one thing but I do have to brag on the internet and say that I beat all 3 boys in our tournament (despite this evidence of me totally whiffing the ball)!

This is the craziest snow machine-4-wheeler-monster-truck hybrid I’ve ever seen. It was not deterred by the gale force winds.

Sunday proved to be a little less windy and a much more fruitful day for our fishing friends. Tony braved the elements and fished outside of the protection of an ice house. His determination paid off and he caught a 19 and 5/8 inch fish that was long enough to earn a 4th place tie and $50.00 (way to go Tony!).

As Sunday’s festivities came to an end, we retrieved our goody bags and blankets, enjoyed a few more laughs about the lack of fish caught and ended up leaving Babb with a smile. That is when the roads finally re-opened on Monday.