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No ice means no fishing derby in Ogdensburg this month

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One fishing derby in the city later this month has been called off because of no ice while another one scheduled the same day in the same place will go on anywhere the fisherman can find ice.

The seventh annual ice fishing derby on Feb. 18 to benefit the Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad was canceled Tuesday because its setting, Wheathouse Bay on the St. Lawrence River, is devoid of ice.

The derby, a popular staple of Ogdensburg’s annual River Shiver winter festival, is an all-ages fund raiser for the Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad. But with nothing but water to look at these days, it was decided that the event couldn’t go on.

“What it is, it is,” said Kenneth J. Gardner, the squad’s director of operations. “If there’s no ice, you can’t have a fishing derby.”

Mr. Gardner said the squad can usually count on getting between $2,000 and $5,000 from the derby’s proceeds.

And the squad knows exactly what to do with the money.

“It allows us to buy additional equipment during the year,” Mr. Gardner said Tuesday.

Derby organizer Matthew J. Denner said Tuesday at least 10 inches of ice are required to allow fishing enthusiasts to safely head out into the bay with their gear and, in many cases, their custom-built, furnished shacks.

The derby usually attracts about 120 contestants who cut a hole in the ice and spend the day fishing for cash prizes awarded by the weight of the catch. Last year’s derby pulled 59 fishermen.

With the ice fishing derby cancelled, the squad has another opportunity during the Feb. 17-28 winter festival to be the beneficiary of a fund raising event. The annual Polar Bear plunge is also scheduled Feb. 18, about half a mile upriver at the city marina. That event, organized by and held for the benefit of the squad and the Greater Ogdensburg Chamber of Commerce, will go on ice or no ice. According to the chamber’s 2012 budget, the two organizations expect to split a projected $5,900 profit from the plunge.

No ice on Wheathouse Bay is no problem for organizers of the third annual Howie’s Budweiser Outdoors Ice Fishing Derby to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project to raise awareness of provide aid for injured U.S. soldiers.

Organizer Dustin L. Smithers said Tuesday that Wheathouse Bay may be all water, but there is ice to be found elsewhere, like Black Lake and Chippewa Bay.

“They can go and fish wherever they can find the ice,” Mr. Smithers said.

Contestants are asked to meet at Howie’s, a bar at 809 New York Ave., before heading out to fish.

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