Lake Ontario ice anglers fish topless

Merland Park ice fishing derby

If you ever needed proof that Canadian ice fishermen are tough (and maybe a little crazy), look no further.

Last weekend, more than 20 men took part in the Merland Park Ice Fishing Derby, which took place on Lake Ontario’s Picton Bay, just south of Belleville, Ontario. Among the variety of games in this one-of-a-kind fishing derby, anglers were challenged to go shirtless in below freezing temperatures for 25 minutes or until they caught a fish—whichever came first. Talk about motivation!

While temperatures in the region rose significantly from the negative double-digits experienced earlier in the week, the weekend still brought temperatures hovering around -10°C.

Merland Park ice fishing derby
Darren—the second winner of the day. Photo courtesy of Merland Park Cottages.

Luckily, the fish were biting. Mike Bellefeuille of Port Perry, Ontario, scored himself a flat-screen TV after just eight minutes into the round, when he hooked a three-inch perch. He also got to put his shirt back on. Dean Jones of St. Catherines took home the prize for biggest fish, catching a 14-ounce perch.

This is the fourth winter that park owners Jennifer and Kevin Lavars have challenged anglers to participate in a variety of wacky winter games over the course of the weekend, including golf on a frozen section of the bay.  The event helped raise $1,500 to go toward Picton Kiwanis Club’s Terrific Kids Program, which works to engage children in a variety of school extra-circulars.

Merland Park ice fishing derby
Derby participants. Photo courtesy of Merland Park Cottages.

For more photos of the derby, check out the Merland Park Cottages Facebook page.