A Crappie Time?
Published: February 17th, 2022
By: Eric Davis

A Crappie Time?

This year could mark my first ice fishing derby in over 10 years. On Monday the Whitney Point Sportsmen’s Association posted on their Facebook page that they measured 14 inches of ice on the reservoir, which is enough ice to hold the Almost Annual Crappie Derby.

The plan is to expect the derby to happen but they want to recheck the ice Friday after the warm and rain to make sure nothing drastic happened to the ice to make it unsafe for the Derby.

From looking at their page more, fishermen and women can pre-register at a few local bait shops, including Hill Top Bait Shop in Afton. Representative from the Association will also be at the Dick’s Sporting Goods stores in Vestal and Binghamton tonight and tomorrow night from 6:00 until 8:00 PM for registration. This year the registration cost is $2, and it is non-refundable if the derby does get cancelled.

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I have never participated in the Crappie Derby so I do not fully understand how it works but have heard gotten some first-hand information from friends who have fished it. Prizes are given out every 15 minutes from 8:00 AM until 3:00 PM. The reservoir is transformed into a city on ice that looks like scenes from the movie,  Grumpy Old Men. This is the reason that they require 12” of ice to hold the derby, so they can bring trucks onto the ice to set up the weigh station and have a speaker system for making announcements.

On a positive note, the Crappie Derby is scheduled for this Saturday because it is a Free Fishing Day from the NYSDEC. This means that anyone can fish without buying a fishing license for the day. This should help bolster participation and get more people outdoors.

The current weather forecast is that Friday night the temperature will get down to the mid-teens and Saturday the temperature will get up to a high of 29 but the wind will be blowing pretty well at 15 to 25 miles per hour. The warm temperature and rain on Thursday followed by freezing temperatures will make the reservoir a giant sheet of ice so anyone participating in the derby should have cleats for their boots.

If you want to avoid the zoo at Whitney Point or are busy this weekend, there is another derby planned for Saturday the 26 on Balsam Pond from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM. The Outpost in McDonough is holding this.

You can sign up at the Outpost before then or on the ice from 7:00 to 9:00 AM the day of. Entry fee is $4 and there are 4 categories of fish: pickerel, perch, crappies and bullhead. The largest fish in each category is a winner. Stop by the Outpost for more details.

Whether you are entering one derby, both derbies, or neither, be safe on the ice and remember to have fun.