Families and ice fishing enthusiasts on the Kenai Peninsula and from all over Alaska are eagerly anticipating the start of Soldotna Trustworthy Hardware & Fishing's annual Ice Fishing Derby on February 1st. The event started 14 years ago as an idea created by the Miller family, owners of Soldotna Hardware & Fishing, to support and encourage the youth of the Peninsula to get outdoors and enjoy the wonders of Alaska's Arctic wilderness. "Last year was the biggest year ever with over 1,200 registered participants and at least 700 of those being kids. We're hoping to break that record this year," says Scott Miller. The recent cold weather has made for good ice conditions on area lakes. "We're already hearing reports of good ice fishing. A lot of the bigger lakes like Hidden Lake are now safe to go on, but you always want to be careful on the larger lakes because even though the ice seems thick, there can be some thin places. I saw some folks out on Kenai Lake the other day, some are getting fish some aren't, but that's fishing and those who are successful are those who stay after it," advised Scott.
While some folks use a pick and axe to make a fish hole, Miller says a simple hand or power auger can make the day a lot more fun, "With ice getting thick, a hand auger works, but takes more time to get fishing than a power auger which makes it a lot easier for you," he recommended. Registration for the 2011 February Derby is already underway and there is no fee to enter. "All you have to do is come by the store to sign up and then after February 1st, bring your catch in and Dawn or anyone here will weigh your fish and get your entry up on the standings board and be eligible for a whole lot of prizes. For the kids we'll take a photo and post it on our website www.soldotnahardware.com so their grandparents or family down in Washington or California can have the fun of watching as the derby progresses through the month February," said Miller. There are some derby rules for qualifying catches and you can check out all those details also on the Soldotna Hardware website.
Grand prizes include a new Eskimo 10inch Ice Auger valued at $400.00, ice fishing jiggers, and video sun glasses from Hunter specialties. "A lot of really fun prizes for the kiddos donated from Berkeley to encourage families to get started in the sport. You know we have a lot guys that go out with just a stick and some line and end up catching as many fish as anyone else, so it doesn't cost a lot of money to gear up to go out and have some winter fun, but whatever gear you're interested in, we have it here at the store. And the truth is, we have it at a lower price then you'll find it in Anchorage or even Seattle. We have a huge warehouse and last week we even sold to a retailer in Seattle," said Miller.
The annual Trustworthy Hardware Derby Kick Off will be held again this year at Sport Lake on Saturday, February 5th from noon to 3:00pm. "We'll be demonstrating a lot equipment out there this year along with hot cocoa and goodies for anyone who wants to come out. We'll be drilling holes for you and have an underwater camera so kids can see the fish come to their line. We'll have bonfire and warm-up tents, and it's really a lot of family fun in the outdoors. Bring your kids, grandkids, or your neighbors kids, try out some new equipment and join your friends and neighbors on the ice," added Miller.
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