While waiting for fish to take the bait, ice fishers roast Winnies over an open fire at Scout Lake
The official kick-off to the 9th annual Soldotna Trustworthy Hardware Ice Fishing Derby was a great success as families dressed for the cold gathered to relive and experience a tradition that goes back thousands of years. Archeologists claim that decoy making (lures) and ice fishing date back to the very beginning of human history. Early native peoples of present day Alaska and Canada have left intricate examples of carved wood, bone and ivory spears, barbs and decoys - tools produced even before the Iron Age.
Modern technology and rip-stop nylon have certainly advanced the methods of winter fishing and human protection against the arctic elements. The thrill of bringing a fresh catch through the ice however, has remained the same through the ages and is being experienced by more and more young people thanks to increasing popularity of the Trustworthy Ice Fishing Derby. According to Dawn Nushart, event coordinator at Trustworthy Hardware, better known as the Ice Fishing Derby Queen, the event is all about having fun outdoors, “We wanted to create a community event that would get kids involved and where everybody could have a lot of family fun in February outdoors,” said Nushart.
Shelia Isaak stays warm in a tip-up tent at Scout Lake during the start of the Trustworthy Hardware Ice Fishing Derby
Every year Derby sponsors provide a vast array of prizes for participants that include an Aquaview camera fish finder, power ice augers, and a treasure chest of various prizes every time a fisher brings in a fish to register. Heading into the third week of the Derby, the largest fish registered was a 6.7 lb Lake Trout, other fish leading in various categories included a 4.8lb Rainbow Trout, a 3.51 lb Dolly Vardon, a 1.79 lb Kokanee, a 4.8 lb Northern Pike, a .79 lb White Fish, and a 3.46 lb Burbot. Typically and historically the burbot entered in the ice fishing derby rarely break even one pound so when Matt Jackson brought in this whopper on Valentines Day it was a real shocker. The fish weighed in at 3.46 pounds and was caught in Trout Lake, one of only two lakes on the Kenai Peninsula that contain burbot.
James Isaak shows a nice rainbow caught during the Ice Fishing Kick-Off party at Scout Lake
“Not as many big Pike coming in so far this year, and that’s a good sign that the Fish & Game effort is being successful,” added Nushart. Even so the ADF&G issued an emergency order allowing five lines to be used at Scout Lake after discovering in January that Pike had been illegally stocked in the Lake.
The final day to enter a fish in the Derby is February 28th. An awards ceremony will follow at the new Soldotna Trustworthy Hardware store. For information about ice fishing hot spots and techniques go to www.alaskaoutdoorjournal.com
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