One of the best ways to prevent "cabin fever" this time of year is to get registered for the 2010 13th Annual Ice Fishing Derby hosted by Soldotna Trustworthy Hardware and Fishing. There is no cost, and there is no experience needed to register for a chance to win some truly great prizes in over 25 separate divisions. The 2010 derby includes divisions from the previous years, such as Kids and Adult, and Kids under 12, but this year for the first time a special "Minnow" division for kids 6-years and under has been added. "We want to get those little guys and girls out there with their parents early, and this will be a great year to get the kiddos started. We've had a great donation from the troopers at Fish & Game of a 16" Rev-Grip kids bike, so that should be a big incentive for the real young ones to get their lines in the water," said Scott Miller of Soldotna Hardware & Fishing. Additionally there will be augers, tents and a huge variety of prizes for division winners, plus grab bags for all kids 12 and under that stop by Soldotna Hardware to register before they head out on the ice.
February 1st was opening day for the Derby, and according to Miller it was the biggest opening day ever. "We had over 20 fish brought in and some nice ones too. We had a 10 lb pike brought in first thing in the morning caught by a little guy, 6-year-old Nicholas McConnell, and a 7.68 lb lake trout caught by Jerry Metcalf at Hidden Lake, so there is a lot of excitement already out there that the fishing and the great weather might make this our best Derby ever. We usually have between 500 and 1,000 participants come in and register for the Derby, but we had well over 500 people signed up opening day, so we are well ahead of the normal pace," said Miller. There is no entry fee for the Ice Fishing Derby, all you have to do is stop by Soldotna Hardware and sign up, before you go fishing. The annual Derby Kick-Off was last held last Saturday at Sport Lake with family fun and hot dogs for all that attended. "It's always an exciting time at Sport Lake thanks to the Miller's who do the hot dogs, hot chocolate, and bonfires. We haven't had such a nice winter in a long time, and its so much fun getting families and kids starting in an outdoor activity," said Dawn Nushart who helps coordinate the annual event.
While some enthusiasts have been known to invest thousands of dollars in sophisticated high tech ice fishing gear, Miller says you can get started for less than ten bucks. "Heck, some guys use a chipper to make a hole in the ice, and you don't need a power auger. A hand auger starts at less than $35, so if have a way to make a hole you get an outfit and jar of bait for less than $10 bucks and you're ready to have some real fun with the family. But if you like toys and high tech gear, you can spend as much as you want, just like fishing in the summer," he said. The friendly folks at the family-owned Soldotna Hardware and Fishing are themselves long-time Alaskans, who love helping people find what they need, and know where the fish are biting. Entries will be eligible through February 28th. For more information, standings, photos, fishing tips, stop by the store in Soldotna on the Sterling Highway or check out the Tight Lines feature online at http://clarionextras.com/tightlines/.
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