Walleye Challenge: Hundreds show for raffles despite no contest
The challenge is “a great event,” said Bill Nealon of Broadalbin. “Too bad there isn’t more ice. But this is why we live in the Adirondacks. It’s still a great day.”
It was a clear and sunny one, at that.
“We can still go snowmobiling afterward because all the trails are groomed,” said Fred Hansen of Broadalbin.
Mike and Joanne Wancewiz of Hagaman came back from a cruise through the Panama Canal with 80 to 90 degree weather to face 8 degrees Friday night.
“I think everyone is disappointed because they came here to fish, but we can enjoy the comradeship,” Mike said.
Periodic drawings by state Assemblyman Robert Smullen for prizes got the crowd’s attention every time. Tom Butt of Perth had a big smile after receiving a cash prize. Lou Stutzke emceed the program.
This winter, the Fulton Montgomery County Regional Chamber of Commerce enhanced the tournament by holding a Walleye Awakening the evening before at Lanzi’s that comprised music, food and drink, fireworks and a bonfire.
President and CEO of the chamber, Mark Kilmer, said the chamber decided to build on the tournament because it “is the most important event in terms of support to the economy of Fulton County.”
“We created a family fun event the night before. I expect to see it grow every year,” Kilmer said. “The tournament is getting bigger and more noted outside of the state.”
Anne Boles, the chamber director of tourism development, said, “I feel things are going to be fantastic despite not having the fish portion.”
Mike Knuetter of Berlin got the best of both worlds. He said he fished (without luck) in a safe area of the lake on Friday.
“I’m not disappointed because everybody has the same chance to win a prize” through drawings, he said.
After fishing Friday hight, he said, “It took me all night to warm up.” However, he watched the fireworks from bed in a house he rented.
Though it’s too bad the fishing fell through, Mike Cooper of Rotterdam said, “I always have a good time.”
“It’s pretty awesome to get everybody out in the winter,” said Peter Wille of Meco. “It gives people something to do. We come every year. You get to see people you haven’t seen in a long time.”