Derby Draws Big Crowds to Twin Lakes
If you think that sitting on a frozen lake plunking your line into a fishing hole carved more that 12 inches into the icy tundra is all there is to the sport of ice fishing, think again! There are the good times and socializing, not to mention the nature-loving and fresh air. Of course, the sport itself as its own rewards, but judging from the overwhelming success of the 2018 Twin Lakes Ice Fishing Derby last weekend, ice fishing is becoming increasingly popular across Colorado.
And so it went for 215 participants at last weekend’s event, a sizeable jump in the 129 competitors the event saw just one year ago. And perhaps it was all that additional above-ice activity that caused those big mackinaw monsters to rise up for a snack, skillfully baited on a line and hook, because by high noon on Saturday, Feb. 10, four sizeable fish were pulled from the icy waters, all tipping the scales in an impressive manner.
But in the end, it was Charlie Black’s 30 lbs 5 ¾ oz mackinaw that won the blue ribbon of the derby! Rounding out the podium for that category were Chris Gonzales in second place with his 27 lbs 3 5/8 oz prize catch which was the first one in to the weigh station, and so impressive that many wondered if it could be beat. Black’s catch about an hour later put that debate to rest. And finally in a third place was Danny Martinez’s 21 lbs ¾ oz mackinaw.
Twin Lakes was definitely giving up some beasts early in the derby, but word musta got around because those trophy mackinaws laid pretty low for the rest of the weekend. Congratulations to the winners and Cheers to all you #PlayByTheRules fisherman who promptly returned their catches back into the depths of this glacial body of water! Readers should be advised that the rules of the Twin Lakes Derby state that “ANY MACKINAW between 22” – 34” must be returned to the water immediately and will not be weighed.”
While the #BigMacDaddys tended to dominate the photo feeds, other competitors weighed in with impressive rainbows, some almost too beautiful to harvest! But it was Lynn Kopasz’s 1 lbs 4 1/8 oz beauty that swam to the top of the leader board, followed by Jan Estep’s 14 5/8 oz rainbow, with Bill Jury’s 13 7/8 oz catch took third place.
There was not a brown (fish) hooked the entire tournament, and the only cutthroats that made it to the record books literally came in within minutes of the High Noon cut-off time on Sunday. Michael Fortner took first place with his 12 1/8 catch and there was only one other cutthroat recorded in this category which was Brian Gross’ smaller fish at 8 7/8 oz.
The girls dominated the winner’s circle when it came to the kids competition, with Lizzi Savron taking the top trophy for her 12 1/8 oz rainbow fish. Dawson Martinez was the only other kid who made it to the leader board with an impressive 20 lbs ¾ oz mackinaw. It should be noted that the kids have a special area of the lake to fish for their competition. The next generation of champions!
This year the Twin Lakes Ice Fishing Derby saw a notable increase in big sponsor support in the form of cash and prizes. Dick’s Sporting Goods, Eagle Claw Fishing Tackle CO, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Scheels definitely augered up to the fishing holes, by plunking down some incredible swag for entrants.
“We gave away over $8,000 in prizes,” reported Salazar. Part of those are for winners, other s are door prizes, so be assured that no one went home empty handed! Also for those still holding their raffle tickets, those prizes were drawn last weekend as well. Here are the winners:
- Winner of 270 Remington Riffle – Jonathan Ricks
- Winner of Ice Shack – Joseph Hammas
- Winner of Ice Auger – Alejandeo Martinez
Organizers also noted that this year’s individual competitors came from as far away as Seattle, WA (997 miles) and from Nebraska traveling over 300 miles. There was also a prize for the top Registered Group that traveled the furthest which went to Jenna Gurule & Anarah Ashcraft who traveled over 400 miles to the derby from Grants, N.M.
The added participation and prizes were great ways to mark year 20 for the annual contest put on by the Leadville Road and Gun Club (LRGC). Readers may remember that it was only two years ago that the tournament took a “pass” year often signaling a downward spiral to the point of no return. Fortunately that wasn’t the case for these hard ice warriors!
However, hosting the longest ice fishing derby in the state – starting at 7 a.m. on Saturday and running until noon on Sunday – takes a lot of effort and support. And that’s where true family tradition helped to strengthen the efforts of organizers Angelina Salazar and Danny Gurule, Jr. The two LRGC members relied heavily on help from cousins, and aunts and uncles, all people who already enjoy the sport of ice fishing.
“We had a lot of help from family, and we couldn’t have done it without them,” said Salazar. “And the fisherman all seemed to really appreciate that!”
© Leadville Today