2012 Saratoga Ice Fishing Derby Winners
February 13, 2012
Once again ice huts, tents, and a variety of other shelters began appearing on the frozen surface of Saratoga Lake and an abundance of pickups and SUVs lined the shoreline and campground roads as fishermen arrived for the 2012 Ice Fishing Derby sponsored by the Saratoga/Platte Valley Chamber of Commerce. The more than 500 anglers of all ages congregating with hope of catching a prize winning fish gave rise to a festive atmosphere during the two day competition.
The action started early when Josh Yates from Loveland, Colo., came into the official headquarters during the first hour on Saturday with the fish that would be the biggest fish of the derby. The five-plus pound rainbow trout weighed in at 5.05 pounds, and was 24.75-inches long, with a girth of 12.5-inches for a total score of 37.25 and won $2,000 for Yates. (The weight does not count, except to break a tie if two fish have identical total scores.)
Maureen Zeiger from Encampment, Wyo., caught a rainbow trout the third hour that was 22.25-inches long with a 11.25-inch girth for a score of 33.5, and weighed 4.12 pounds. Her trout remained the second-largest fish until the final hour on Sunday when Jim Goetzel of Wheatland, Wyo., pulled in a 21.75-inch long fish with 12-inch girth for a total score of 33.75 to take the second-place prize of $1,000. Goetzel had also collected the $100 for the biggest fish caught during one hour on Saturday morning. Zieger then finished in third-place to win $500.
About 9 a.m. Saturday, Alysia Henderson of Evanston, Wyo., caught the First Bounty fish and won a $500 prize. The Evanston High School senior said she was excited when she saw the pink marking behind the fish’s dorsal fin. Alysia’s mother, Lori Henderson of Evanston, Wyo., pulled in the Second Bounty fish around noon and collected $250. Patrick Lewallen of Casper, Wyo., collected $50 for catching the Third Bounty fish around 2 p.m. Saturday.
Second-grader Gavin O’Connell of Rawlins, Wyo., caught the largest fish in the Small Fry contest for anglers age 14 and under about 1 p.m. Saturday. The 7-year-old’s fish measured 18.75-inches long and 10.75-inches girth for a score of 29.5. O’Connell received a $200 savings bond and a “Bucket of Fun” full of fishing gear.
Many other fishermen were also winners even though they didn’t win the top prizes. The prize for the biggest fish caught each hour was $100, and there were drawings for many door prizes. The Small Fry prizes of $20 were given for the biggest fish caught every hour. Altogether, the Saratoga Ice fishing Derby awarded more than $6,000 in cash prizes, plus merchandise gifts.
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The Platte Valley Chamber of Commerce also sponsored the “Best Decorated Ice Fishing Hut” which added another bit of interest. One family sparked considerable attention with the colorful leis around their necks to coordinate with their Hawaiian-themed fishing hut with its own giant palm tree.
However, the winning entry was Saratoga fifth grade student, Robin Gloss, with her “covered wagon hut” pulled by a hand painted “giant trout.” Robin and her Dad, Dave Gloss, had often remarked that the shape of their hut reminded them of a covered wagon, so Robin came up with the theme, “Big Fish or Bust.” Robin sketched the giant trout and with Dave’s help added the finishing touches.
Although the weather was chilly, and the wind created challenges, the anglers, and their family and pets seemed to find plenty of activities to fill their time while they watched their fishing lines. All in all, the hundreds who gathered for the 29th annual Saratoga ice Fishing Derby seemed to be having a ball.