If you think that sitting on a frozen lake plunking your line into a fishing hole carved more than 12 inches deep into the icy tundra is all there is to the sport of ice fishing, think again! There are good times with family and friends, not to mention the incredible views, fresh air, and mountain sunshine. Of course, the sport itself has its own rewards, but judging from the growing success of the Twin Lakes Ice Fishing Derby in recent years, ice fishing is becoming increasingly popular across Colorado. So mark the calendar for February 9 & 10, 2019.
Sponsored by the Leadville Rod & Gun Club, last year, the event marked two decades of frozen fun that creates a shanty-town wonderland, bringing folks together for a mid-winter contest of cash and prizes. And no doubt, some of the fish being pulled from that glacial reservoir are impressive, setting the tone for bragging rights that keep local fishing men and women coming back for more.; and yes, there’s a kid’s competition too!
Last year’s competition saw a sizable jump in participants with well over 200 competitors vying for the top trout tales. And when you consider those big mackinaw monsters they’ve been drawing up to the surface, the competition is nothing to dismiss. Take the year that Charlie Black’s 30 lbs 5 ¾ oz mackinaw won the blue ribbon of the derby! And Chris Gonzales’ second place catch with his 27 lbs 3 5/8 oz catch was a worthy competitor as Twin Lakes definitely gives up some beasts its gained a reputation for.
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!”
The Twin Lakes Ice Fishing Derby is known as the longest, competitive ice-fishing derby not only in the state but across the region. There’s no break in the action, as competitors kick-off early on Saturday and continues overnight until noon on Sunday. Competitors can enter to win cash prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place for Mackinaw, Rainbow, Brown and Cutthroat fish. Prizes will be awarded on the weight of individual fish caught.
This is also a great outdoor event for the children, passing down family traditions of winter recreation. Children age 12 & under who participate and place in categories will be eligible for a 1st place belt buckle. Trophies will be awarded to 2nd and 3rd winners in each category. There is NO entry fee for the kids’ competition.
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.
And money isn’t the only thing they will be giving away! In fact, the LRGC is known for delivering some top-of-the-line prizes including an ice auger and portable ice shanty. Each paid contestant will be eligible to win those prizes. And don’t forget the LRGC raffle with tickets at $5 a piece or buy 5 for $20 from any club member.
The entry fee is only $40. For an application CLICK HERE. Paper applications can also be picked up locally at the Leadville Sanitation District office at the corner of McWethy Drive and Highway 24 South and at Saturdays Mercantile, located south of Leadville at 12655 US-24, across from the Little Red Schoolhouse.
Of course, as stated in the rules, ANY MACKINAW between 22” – 34” must be returned to the water immediately and will not be weighed. And the mobile station will be for Macs only, all of the Rainbows, Browns, and Cutthroats will be recorded as usual in the weigh station trailer at Dexter Point. The event does offer an official mobile weigh-in station, for Mackinaws only. If a contestant catches a Mackinaw they can call one of the organizers who will come to the competitor to weigh their Mackinaw. This is for fishermen who wish to release the fish back into the water; this way they don’t have to bring the catch out of water that far if they are simply going to be recorded for the competition and put back for future catching. 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.”
The official event headquarters and weigh-in station during the derby weekend is staged at the Twin Lakes Dexter Parking lot. The Leadville Rod & Gun Club can be reached at P.O. Box 604, Leadville, CO 80461. Or contact LRGC derby organizers Angelina Salazar at 719-293-0567 or Danny Gurule 719-293-5057.
Leadville Today will be there, so stay tuned for all the fishing action, photos, videos, and results. It should be a fun winter weekend! So pull out your shanty, grab your pole and auger and head out for some winter fun – and what may be the biggest fish you ever catch.
“We are excited!” reports Angelina Salazar, one of the Twin Lakes Ice Fishing Derby organizers. “We got some great sponsors last year. Dick’s Sporting Goods, Eagle Claw Fishing Tackle CO, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Scheels from the big outfitters, as well as local individuals and business from Eagle, Lake, Summit and Chaffee County.”
In 2018 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, others are door prizes, so be assured that no one went home empty handed!
© Leadville Today