This biggest day for catching crappies in Whitney Point has been cancelled. As our Elyse Mickalonis explains, the New York State Crappie Derby will not go on as planned this year and the weather is very much to blame.
WHITNEY POINT, N.Y. -- Don David has been in the lure and bait business for more than 20 years now. And he knows exactly what the annual New York State Crappie Derby means to Whitney Point.
“A thousand times more people coming to the shop in a day and you get a week and a half of business in one day. It’s pretty cool,” said David.
Thomas Edwards, a Chenango Bridge resident, added, “You get a bunch of people, food and drink, but it’s all about the fishing for me. Catch that big fish, gotta win that big prize.”
But those crowds won’t be showing up this year and Mother Nature is to blame.
“The weather has been up and down and up and down and we just couldn’t hold the ice,” said Derby Coordinator Dave Hughes.
On Monday, the Broome County Department of Parks and Recreation measured only eight inches of ice on Whitney Point Lake, not enough to ensure the safety of the three to 4,000 derby guests who were expected.
“We’ve found if we don’t have early ice in December, mid-December, we don’t have a good shot at the derby. If we get ice and keep it on without too many thaws, we’ll be all right,” said Hughes.
Over the last ten years, the Crappie Derby has been cancelled five times. And with warm spells and rain showers this winter, fisherman say they knew this year would be a no-go.
“Once that ice is settled in the lake, it’s over with. When you bring more water on there, it’s like popping a bottle and cracking the ice,” said Edwards.
David added, “You just gotta roll with punches. As a business owner, it’s nice to have the crappie derby and it’s definitely a shot in the arm, but you can’t rely on the one or two particular days to make or break your business.”
Still, many say better safe than sorry. Some even think it’ll make the derby better next year.
“It won't bring all those people out and it'll make the fish a little bit bigger. You know there will be bigger fish next year. I think it'll help,” said Edwards.
Next year’s Derby is set for January 25th, if Mother Nature cooperates.
This year marks the 40th annual attempt to host the New York State Crappie Derby.