Patience pays off at Chenango Perch Derby

By Kelly McCarthy

February 23, 2013 Updated Feb 25, 2013 at 11:07 AM EST

New Berlin, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The winter weather is getting a warm welcome from ice fisherman around the Southern Tier. Hundreds stepped out onto Chenango Lake Saturday for the Perch Derby.

After patiently waiting, the ice covering Chenango Lake is ready for drilling. The event could not go on if the ice is less than 12 inches thick.

More than 400 fishermen are hoping this year's Perch Derby pays off.

"We have more than a hundred perch that are tagged with this year's 2013 tag perch because that's the main reason everybody is here," said Ron Charles of the Oxford Lions Club. "If someone catches one of those tagged perch it's a $1,000 prize."

Fishermen said the generous prize is worth waiting for.

"If you don't have patience you probably won't last long doing this sport because it's slow usually," said Stanley Hayes of Greene. "Slow type of fishing."

With different ways to pass the time. Some of the sportsmen took to the snow.

"We weren't catching fish and we were getting tired of sitting in the shanty so decided to get out and hopefully build a snowman and get a flag," said Cody Frazier, of Watertown.

Others kept busy and up to date with fishing technology on the ice.

"Sonar that tells you the bottom, the depth of the water and it will mark your fish and actually mark your lure," said Hayes. "An underwater camera in that one so you can actually see underneath the water, see the fish, the whole nine yards."

Passing the time until they can get their hands on one of the perch.

"I got an 18-inch small mouth bass and 4 pickerel, so it's a good day so far," said Charles Rutkowski, of Bainbridge. "But nobody around us caught a fish, we're in the right spot."

Rutkowski had a secret he was willing to share.

"I shouldn't even say this," Rutkowski grinned. "I always pinch half of the tail off the minnow it makes the minnow swim erratically underwater and attracts the fish."

Hundreds were for the big winner, or just enough for a full meal.

"We always bring a grill with us because we cook on the ice." said Richard Ryan, of Oxford.

The Chenango Lake Perch derby is organized by the Oxford Lions club.

Prizes were given out for the largest perch every 15 minutes.

NBT Bank sponsored the $1,000 prize.