Success at Dam to Dam 2018

Success at Dam to Dam 2018

by Carmen Faulkner

At sunrise, the serious contenders went out. They walked or snowshoed or rode snowmobiles. Some carried ice shanties, others stuck true to what I would consider to be the ‘old school, torturous’ tradition of sitting on buckets in the wind and cold. They drilled holes with ice augers, they baited their hooks, and they waited.

By the time I arrived around 11, the ice on both sides of Croton Pond was peppered with attendees. Hundreds of them sat alone, or huddled in groups. The wind was strong, but not enough to be a deterrent, and the sun was hidden behind a thick line of grey clouds. The ice was a gleaming sheen from two days of thawing and freezing in quick succession. The smart ones wore cramp-ons on their boots, the rest of us shuffled, penguin-like, uncertainly around the ice.

Music was blasting from the Croton campground, beer was flowing at the beer tent, and the few food vendors were seeing lots of traffic from those seeking shelter from the wind rolling it’s way across the ice. All in all, it was a festive scene. The serious fishermen and women had their spots all around the ice, and groups of social seekers set up tents, cooked breakfasts, rode snowmobiles. Kids in fluffy snowsuits wrestled on the slippery ice, a few brave ice skaters made bumpy loops around their parents, dogs ran after frisbees. I may not be a lover of all things winter, but seeing the hundreds of people; families and sports-enthusiasts, children, small town-socialites, all waddling their way around a giant chunk of ice, it was hard to not be converted.

At 3:30, people made their way back across the ice to the Croton campground for the weigh in of pike, bluegill, crappie, and perch. They came in droves, filling the campground and surrounding the stage, spilling out onto the ice. As the numbers rolled in, awards were given to the longest fish in each category for adults and children. Of the 764 registered, the winning pike caught by Dan Videtich stole the show, coming in at 39 and 3/8 inches. Orlando Vandyke in the children’s category followed up shortly behind with a 34 inch monster, practically as tall as him. Awards were also given for the ‘best hat on the ice,’ won by Rick Oldenkamp, who wore a full wolf skin; black fur covered his head, spilled down his back, almost dragged the ground.

As the awards came to an end, and a long day on the ice was coming to a close, the skies began to open; bits of blue and sunshine flickered out across the frozen lake. Though many were wet, cold, and tired, it was a welcome bit of warmth that ended the festivities on a high note. Many weren’t done here though, and the campground stayed full throughout the evening and into Sunday. Snowpant-clad participants walked back to the Driftwood to celebrate, eat, and dance the night away.

Winter lover or hater, whichever side of the line you fall on, I can’t recommend visiting this event enough. Next year will be the 13th annual Dam to Dam, and even if fishing isn’t your game, seeing our community come together, all of which raises money for local nonprofit, TrueMentors, is a reason to get out and get involved.

To see a full lineup of the award winners, visit the Dam to Dam facebook page below: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Dam-to-Dam-Ice-Fishing-Tournament-148509468585124/posts/?ref=page_internal

To learn more about TrueMentors, the nonprofit that this event benefits, see here: http://truementors.org

Thank you to all the sponsors that make this great event happen. We can’t thank you enough for a wonderful day on the ice!

Sponsored by:

Leinenkugels, WLAV, TrueNorth Community Services, Croton Bay Trading Post, American Legion, Driftwood Bar and Grill, M&J Hardware, Hilltop Community Stores

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About The Author

Carmen Faulkner

Carmen Faulkner is an avid travel enthusiast who grew up in Newaygo County. When she isn’t on the road, she splits her time between her home in Newaygo and the mountains of British Columbia. Her love for all things outdoors is paralleled only to her appreciation of food, coffee, and craft beer. You can find her in our community kayaking down the Muskegon River, hiking the North Country Trail, or enjoying the small businesses of downtown Newaygo.