Ice fishing enthusiasts know about the Pelican Lake Ice Fishing Derby that takes place every spring the first weekend in March, this year Saturday, March 2nd. 

In the past, folks would bring their prize catch of the day to the measuring station to get their names and the size of their fish on the board. 

However, for conservation purposes the new rules are that anglers cannot be in possession of a walleye that is over 21 ½ inches, or a northern pike that is over 29 ½ inches.  The reason being that these larger fish are the female egg-layers that keeps fish populations healthy.

This new rule has created its share of challenges for the organizers of the ice fishing derby - and so they will be using the Fish Donkey App on smart phones to document the fish caught. 

Healthy Lake Committee Chair, Trevor Maguire, says unfortunately this discriminates against those who do not use a smart phone, and it's a bit difficult to take a picture of a slippery fish in a bump board, and not lose your phone down the water hole!  However, there are ways around that and one way is to bring a buddy to help with the photo shots and the downloading of information into the Fish Donkey App.

"Anyone of any age can fish at our derby on March 2nd, by paying the $60 entry fee," explains Maguire. "But we've always had a free youth component as well so if you want to just come and fish for free, we've moved that to March 9th."

The ages for the youth fishing are 3 to 14 years old, scheduled for Saturday, March 9th.

"So, this has all brought on some little changes and we're adapting to it.  No one is super happy about it," he adds. "But it's what the rules are so it's what we're going to try and do."

The benefits to the Fish Donkey App is that once you've logged in, anglers can enter a fish only once the derby has officially started.  Once you've caught your fish, taken a picture of it and of yourself holding it (you need to match the name on the App user) and then video tape yourself returning the fish back into the water, then you're officially in the contest.  The Fish Donkey automatically places your entries in order with other participants of longest to smallest so everyone can see immediately where they place in the standings for each species!

The most important benefit to using the App is that the stress anglers give these large egg-layers through handling them, having them jostle around in a too-small bucket of water, being handled by multiple people to measure them and then tossed into the live well, is eliminated.  The fish are caught, photo'd and then back in the water!

It's important to remember the reason for the change is that Conservation Manitoba is wanting to help protect our older fish that lay the eggs that makes our fishing on Pelican Lake so much fun!

For more information visit the Health Lake Website HERE!