Saranac Lake’s Colby Classic Ice Fishing Derby Celebrates 40 Years 

12 Feb Saranac Lake’s Colby Classic Ice Fishing Derby Celebrates 40 Years 

The Saranac Lake Fish and Game Club is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its Colby Classic Ice Fishing Derby, taking place on Saturday, March 2 and Sunday, March 3 on Lake Colby and surrounding waters. 

Organizers are marking the 40th anniversary with exciting prizes and contests. Rocky Nogales, tournament coordinator, shared his excitement for the milestone year. “This year, being the 40th anniversary, we decided to do a few things differently regarding sponsorships and the value of prizes offered,” he said. 

The derby is open to adults and children, with prizes in each category. The event typically draws between 200-250 participants each year, with approximately 80 young people taking part as they fish for trout, salmon and perch on Lake Colby, along with pike in surrounding waters.

The event kicks off with its annual tradition of the DEC’s special delivery of 5-year-old specially-tagged fish from its salmon and rainbow trout ponds. Historically, if caught, those fish represent a cash prize of $100 to each angler lucky enough to land one. 

John Gorgas, a spokesperson for the tournament, explained how the “tagged fish” portion of the contest has been enhanced this year. “The DEC-tagged fish are being sponsored by local businesses, sometimes challenging each other and combining their donations, to increase the value of each fish caught,” he said. “We have multiple tagged fish valued over $300 each. In one particular case, eight real estate agencies have combined forces to sponsor one fish, turning a single tag into an $800 fish, if caught, ” he said. “Our local businesses have been excited about this sponsorship idea, and we couldn’t be more thrilled.”

Some local hotels are also celebrating this milestone year, offering special rates for tournament participants. 

Lake Colby offers the perfect location for ice fishing. The lake’s size and location in Saranac Lake helps to ensure sufficient ice, provided that temperatures remain cold. Downtown Saranac Lake is surrounded by dozens of lakes and ponds, allowing for unparalleled access. The town offers access to three connected lakes, including Lake Colby, creating a unique and picturesque setting for the tournament.

Proceeds from the fishing derby benefit the Saranac Lake Fish and Game Club’s conservation projects and training, its Father’s Day fishing derby, hunter education and safety training programs along with archery classes for community members. 

Businesses interested in sponsoring a tagged fish or learning more about sponsorship opportunities are encouraged to contact Rocky Nogales at or 505-697-0452. Contact John Gorgas at for general tournament information. Visit the Colby Classic Ice Fishing Derby Facebook page for the latest updates and information.

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