Sweet 16 and never been ice fishing on the Kenai? Then this is the year to kiss a fish after bringing it through the ice to the frying pan! For the last 16 years thanks to the locally owned Soldotna Trustworthy Hardware & Fishing families have been experiencing the winter wonders of the Kenai Peninsula and the thrill of ice fishing. Kids of all ages, parents and grandparents, women and men have geared up and left the couch behind to experience the family fun of being outdoors together. Thousands of prizes have been given away over the years and this year the grand prize is an all new Ion Electric Auger plus many other great prizes like Berkley rods and reels, Eskimo Ice Tent and trophies for the kids with over 25 divisions that include kids and adult divisions. “And kids win a prize just for bringing a fish in, we even have a 6 year-old and under minnow division and we are looking forward to some more record breakers this year! Each year we see a huge variety of fish entered and some of the heaviest in a couple of categories. Thanks to all the contestants who return year after year, really putting in some time to get out there to find that big one,” said Brian Miller of the family owned and operated hardware and fishing store.
For the serious icefisher the derby has a special division called the royal flush which means catching a fish in every division, “It’s very challenging to do in this area and takes a lot of time and a lot of effort and you have to brave the winter weather quite a bit to get it done and I understand there are some women who are going for it this year,” said Miller. As always there is no entry fee to enter the derby, but you must stop in and register at Trustworthy hardware in Soldotna before going fishing. “We have a 3.5 pound trout already in and a lot of people are doing well with trout and that maybe due to pike being smaller this year, but we do have entries in every division already this year except for burbot,” added Miller. While there is all kinds of fancy hi-tech ice fishing gear available at Soldotna Hardware Brian says you get started with everything you need to get started for less than a $50 investment, “Hand auger, fishing pole, bait and everything you need to go. It’s pretty easy to get out there and catch a fish and there are some open holes on some of the local lakes that you can just chip open and the neat thing about ice fishing is everybody helps everybody you just go out and ask someone questions and chances you’ll leave with a fish there are a lot of people who will help you out, or come on in and we’ll give you some hints and tell you some of our secret places to get the big ones,” he said.
The Ice Fishing Derby will continue through midnight February 28th and you can check the current standing by logging on to www.soldotnahardware.com or check out the photos and leader board at the store on the Sterling highway and remember you must sign up before fishing.