Contests add bit of spice, cash to ice fishing
By Karl Licis, Special to the Rocky
First published December 23, 2008 at 9:50 p.m.
Fishing has been called the contemplative man's recreation, and so it might be on the ice. But the winter is long, and one can do just so much contemplating.
If admiring a snow- and ice- bound setting, enjoying the easy camaraderie common among ice fishermen, staring intently at a strike indicator or peering through a porthole into the lake from a black-out hut are not quite enough, ice fishermen can spice up a day on the hard water with an element of competition and the chance of winning some attractive prizes.
Ice-fishing contests - some small, some attracting hundreds of participants - are conducted at various locations in Colorado throughout winter.
"They're attractive for a combination of reasons," said Larry Falk, proprietor of 11 Mile Marina, which hosts the three-part Gander Mountain Colorado Classic Ice Fishing Tournament on Elevenmile Reservoir.
"We get people who think they're good ice fishermen - and they are - who want a chance to match their skills against others by competing for the cash prizes. But we also get relative novices who enter mainly just to enjoy a day on the ice, and they also have a good chance of winning some money. We also have door prizes from our sponsors, and all in all, it's just a good day on the ice."
Bill Wilcox of the Lake John Resort, which, with the Walden Chamber of Commerce, co-hosts the Lake John/Cowdrey and Delaney Lakes contests in North Park, takes a somewhat more practical approach.
"People come out for the prize money," he said. "You could win up to $750 in the Lake John and Cowdrey contest, which could go a long way in paying for your gas and other ice-fishing expenses."
Even nonfishermen are attracted to some of the events.
The Three Lakes Ice Fishing Tourney, sponsored by the Granby Chamber of Commerce, offers raffle prizes that include a pickup truck and snowmobile in addition to cash payouts for contestants.
"A lot of people enter just for the raffle," said Richard Crager of Budget Tackle in Granby.
All the contests might offer similar attractions, but each is different.
* Colorado Classic Ice Fishing Tournament: Said to offer the largest cash payout in the state, it offers three separate segments - Grand Slam, Jan. 10 South Park Ice Masters Traveling Trophy, Feb. 7 Marina March Madness, March 7. Two-person teams can compete in each individual contest or acquire points for a final grand prize by participating in all three. Early registration is $70 per team, later registration is $80, day of contest is $90. Information: 11MileSports.com or 1-877-725-3172.
* Lake John and Cowdrey Ice Fishing Contest: Jan. 10-11. Entry is $30 for adults, $5 for fishermen younger than 16. Winner receives $750. Other payouts are to be $400, $300, $200 and $75. Information: Walden Chamber of Commerce, 970-723-4600, or Lake John Resort, 970-723-3226.
* Delaney Lakes Ice Fishing Contest: Feb. 7. Entry is $30 for adults, $10 for anglers younger than 17. Information: Walden Chamber of Commerce, 970-723-4600.
* Three Lakes Ice Fishing Tourney: Jan. 30-31 and Feb. 1 on Granby and Shadow Mountain reservoirs and Grand Lake. Fishermen can compete in categories for mackinaw, rainbow and brown trout as well as the grand slam, which includes kokanee salmon. Category winners each receive $1,000, with payouts to be determined by number of entries, to be awarded through seventh place in each. Entry is $35 per person and includes a raffle ticket. Information: Granby Chamber of Commerce, 970-887-2311, or Budget Tackle, 970-887-9344.
* Rifle Gap Ice Fishing Tournament: Jan. 17-18. Entry is $30 through Dec. 31, $35 through Jan. 9 and $50 afterward. Anglers younger than 18 are free. Information: Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce, 970-842-2085.
* Wolford Mountain Ice Fishing Contest: Feb. 14. Entry is $35. Information: Kremmling Area Chamber of Commerce, 877-573-4623.