North Park area hosts winter ice fishing tournaments | TheFencePost.com
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North Park area hosts winter ice fishing tournaments

The seasonal sport of ice fishing is all the more popular when cash and other prizes become part of the catch. On Jan. 22-23, 2022, the North Park Chamber of Commerce, Walden, Colo., will welcome many participants to two tournament lakes and, on Feb. 5, at a third venue.

The two-day January contest will be held at Lake John Resort in Walden and Cowdrey Lake in Cowdrey. February’s competition follows just two weeks later at Delaney Butte Lakes in Walden.

Event Contact Whitney Milek said that the North Park area tournaments were first held at least 30 years ago, starting out so small and informal that records don’t go back that far. Things certainly are different now, with easy online registrations and cash/prizes that lure anglers from all over Colorado and several other states.



Numerous ice fishing participants from Colorado, Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota eagerly vied for prizes in the 2021 tournaments. Milek said part of the reason for heightened interest was COVID-19, which halted many events around the U.S. and worldwide. Homebound people yearned for chances to get out without risk.

Since enticing icebound fish in the great winter outdoors is a virtually safe pursuit, Walden drew 480 eager trout hunters (nearly doubling the tiny town’s normal population of 590) to the Lake John Resort contest and 200 to Delaney Butte Lakes. Milek happily noted the bountiful entry numbers well outnumbered those of previous years. She added that 2022’s early entry count already looks highly promising.



Area merchants will appreciate that bounty. Besides entry fees, the January/February events bring in revenue from lodging and RV spaces, food and beverages, souvenirs and other miscellany.

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

The town of Walden sets at an elevation of 8,200 feet with scenery both diverse and breathtaking. Lake John Resort is located right at the base of Sheep Mountain, whereas Cowdrey Lake is a standout among the sagebrush, said Milek. Delaney Butte Lakes, at the base of Delaney Butte, is a 25-minute drive from Walden and Lake John.

This competitor at the Delaney Lakes Ice Fishing Tournament in February 2021 looks mighty happy with his catch. Photo by Whitney Milek

Milek recalled the 2021 Delaney Lakes Tournament for several reasons. The weather was quite challenging, with super cold temps and punishing high winds. Plus, it was the first year for the incoming board of directors.

To ward off frostbite or other winter weather woes while measuring fish for awards, people gathered around cozy fire pits. Somehow or other, one particular board member managed to set herself alight not once but twice during the day. She flamed up her snow pants and set her hair on fire, so badly that the properly embarrassed lady borrowed a knife to do an immediate DIY trim job on her smoldering locks!

Grand Prize winners of 2021’s tournaments reeled in some very impressive trout. Capturing first place at Lake John Resort/Cowdrey Lake was Rock Roop with a 45-inch trout (total size). Marvin Rosencrans caught his 39.13-inch first place winner at Delaney Lakes.

Milek summed up the two fishy tournaments for excitement and camaraderie, declaring, “It’s a fun time with lots of laughs!”

TOURNAMENT SPECIFICS

The 2022 quarry at Lake John and Cowdrey Lake will be rainbow, cutbow and cutthroat trout. Brown trout will join the mix at Delaney Butte Lakes on Feb. 5.

Angling for a share of the bounty, participants hope to snag the largest fish. Cash prizes are awarded based on length plus girth of trout caught by each adult individual during the two-day January contest: first place wins $1,500; second merits $1,000; third gets $500.

Youth age 16 and younger will compete for separate prizes: first place wins $100; second $75; third $50; fourth $25.

Adult registration is $50; under age 16 is $15. Youngsters can opt to register as adults by paying the higher entry fee in order to try for the larger prizes. (Milek reported that several kids have proudly won the adult division in past years.)

One beauty of a trout caught at Delaney Lakes in February 2021. Photo by Whitney Milek

Additionally, one set of prizes for the two-day/two-lake contest is $100 for the largest fish taken hourly during designated hours.

Bucket drawings are held for more than $2,500 in donated prizes, while a 50/50 drawing can yield some big cash. For just $1 per ticket, the holder is eligible to win half the proceeds of total ticket revenues. (Last year’s lucky winner left with $980.)

Drawings and awards will take place at Lake John Resort at 2 p.m.on Sunday, Jan. 23; must be present to win.

Somewhere under that anti-COVID 19 mask is a great big smile from Sean O’Brien III, the 2021 youth winner of the Delaney Lakes Ice Fishing Tournament. Photo by Whitney Milek

All tournament supplies are on a BYO basis. Lake John Resort, however, does have augers and fishing huts for rent. A year-round tourist destination, the resort offers rental cabins and RV spaces as well.

WALDEN IN FEBRUARY

For more icy excitement, the Delaney Butte Lakes Ice Fishing Tournament will be held Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022., at 6 a.m.-5 p.m. MST in Walden, Colo.

Especially noteworthy about this venue is that the lake is a stocked gold medal water from which the state harvests brown trout eggs. These are then grown to restock lakes all around Colorado.

Most other information is the same as for the January venues except winning fish size depends on different criteria, i.e. qualifying rainbows must be over 18-inches long, etc. Watch the website for updates and additional information.

SIDEBAR

The 2022 Ice Fishing Tournament will be held Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, beginning at 6 a.m. and continues Sunday, Jan. 23 starting at noon (MST) at Lake John Resort, Walden, Colo., and Cowdrey Lake in Cowdrey, Colo.

Participants can register online for the two-day January event under “Calendar” at http://www.northparkareachamber.com. You may also register in-person at Lake John Resort the Friday before or day of the tournament. (And at Delaney Lakes for its February Tournament.) Registration is similarly possible at the North Park Chamber of Commerce, 489 Main Street, Walden, from 10 a.m.–7 p.m. on the Friday before each tournament.

The C of C website provides ongoing updates. For questions or additional information, you may also call event contact Whitney Milek at (970) 723-4600.


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