Shrine Club reels in big catch with inaugural Indoor Ice Fishing Derby

Prince Albert Shrine Club member Riley Beaulac (white shirt at back with bucket) prepares to draw a “fish” out of one of many “ice holes” during the club’s inaugural Indoor Ice Fishing Derby on Saturday. The event raised funds for a number of WA WA Shrine charitable activities and donations. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

The Prince Albert Shrine Club hoped for a big catch when hosting their inaugural Indoor Ice Fishing Derby, but even they were a bit surprised with what they reeled in.

The first-time fundraiser drew plenty of enthusiastic participants who packed the East End Community Club to raise money for the club’s charitable activities. Club volunteers and organizers, like president Stu Dawson, said the level of community support went above and beyond what they expected.

“It just blew our minds,” Dawson said. “The community came and rallied around us way more than we ever expected. We sold out 23 corporate tables almost within three weeks. It was just phenomenal, the support.”

Dawson first took part in an Indoor Ice Fishing Derby in Regina. He and other club members liked it so much they decided to hold one in Prince Albert. The goal of the game is to get the largest catch by picking playing cards out of plastic buckets serving as ice fishing holes. Prizes are awarded for largest and smallest catch, as well as total weight.

“It’s a great fundraiser, and it’s something that our club could work at together, and also could draw the community together,” Dawson explained. “We’re a small club and it’s just nice for us to be able to generate some revenue that we can use to further the support that we as a club give to the community.”

That support is extensive. The Shrine Club has backed almost a dozen local initiatives in Prince Albert, including Two Miles for Mary and the Relay for Life.

Initially, the club wasn’t sure they’d get enough support to fill the East End Community Hall, but by the end of the night they realized they’d need a bigger venue next year.

“We cut the sales off (and) we didn’t really advertise it to walk-ins because we’re limited here with our space,” Dawson explained. “We wanted to try it. It’s a learning curve for us of course, and we’re delighted.”

Dawson added that the event wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of club volunteers and their wives, who worked tirelessly to make the inaugural indoor derby a success.

“We appreciate and give thanks for all the work of our committee members, and our ladies,” he said.