A Crappie Derby

By WBNG News

January 29, 2011 Updated Jan 29, 2011 at 10:44 PM EDT

Whitney Point, NY (WBNG Binghamton) An annual event that draws thousands outdoors into the cold continues this year as the weather cooperated.

A list of Saturday's Winners:

1st Place: Parker Thomas of Newark Valley catching a crappie derby 14 1/8 inches long.

2nd Place: Ted Cuvezier of Binghamton with 14 inches
3rd Place: Don Crawford of Lauren with 13 7/8 inches.

Ice fishers say it's more of a matter of luck than it is skill.

"I just kind of sit around and maybe use the jig pole and jig for the fish, but there's really nothing to do besides wait," said Stephen Herbert of Liberty.

Whitney Point was the place to be this Saturday.

Thousands were waiting for the biggest crappie to bite their lines in this highly anticipated and well attended winter tradition.

"You don't need a lot really. You need some tip-ups, a good ice-hogger, and a couple of guys willing to go with you and you drag everything out. We parked way over there and walked over in the slush. It was quite a haul out here," said Toby Eldred of Smithville Flats.

Some people hauled out their equipment on snow mobiles or sleds the night before and camped out in tents.

Others arrived at 7 a.m. when registration began.

This year the weather helped make the event possible.

"What a day we had today! I think we had a high of 33, according to the National Weather Service, right here on the ice. Luckily there's no wind to speak of so the wind chill was not much lower than that," said Derby organizer David Hughes.

"I looked over and I saw the flag fly up so I ran over there and that thing stopped spinning and said, aw man, but I picked it up really slow and I felt it on there and gave it a little yank and it was a nice crappie," said John Finkle from Wurtsboro.

Finkle managed to win the second fifteen minute tournament in the derby.

His crappy was 13 and 5/8 inches long.

Others weren't so lucky.

"No bites, no luck. My friend caught one and that was it, but I enjoy ice fishing, so a good day of ice fishing is better than work any day," said Robert Finn from Sullivan County.

Yet whether they caught something or not, most of the fishermen enjoyed the day on the ice anyway.

The largest fish caught at the derby this year was fourteen and a half inches long.

The derby was able to give away more than $13,000 in prizes thanks to the support of local businesses.