Granby Chamber wraps up another successful Three Lakes Ice Fishing Contest
The 29th annual Three Lakes Ice Fishing Contest (TLIFC) wrapped up Sunday, Jan. 29 as anglers from throughout the state descended upon the Granby Community Center for the contest’s last prize presentation of the weekend.
The TLIFC informally marks the beginning of the ice fishing season for many anglers and local organizers were thrilled with the contest’s success once again this year at bringing tourists into Middle Park. “The tournament has gone great,” said Granby Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Gayle Langley. Langley and other staff members working the tournament were taking fish submissions early Sunday morning.
She continued by adding, “There have been no accidents. We have had tons of fish into the weigh station. Our fish-master Bernie [Keefe] has done an excellent job. We will have Kristy [Aulicino] putting up a live stream of the awards ceremony. We are all staying warm and having a great time.” According to Langley there were a total of 902 registered anglers competing in the tournament through Saturday. As of early Sunday morning Langley said formal registrations were sitting at just under 1,000.
Among those competing were Jeff Rogakis and Robert Alvarado. Rogakis was thankful for the sunnier skies and higher temperatures Sunday morning. “Conditions were a lot warmer today than the last couple of days,” he said with a smile and a chuckle. His fishing partner, Alvarado, submitted a nice sized mackinaw to the judges Sunday morning.
“This is my first fish of the weekend,” Alvarado said as he weighed in his fish. “The past two days we got skunked.” Alvarado’s mackinaw was good enough to take home a second place finish Sunday afternoon. After he received his formal award Alvarado discussed his late breaking disappointment when he found out his was no longer in the top spot. “We held first place up until about 1:30 p.m. or so,” he said. “But overall, to be able to place on my first time being here was pretty cool.”
Jeff Burke of Fort Collins was also up fishing Sunday with his buddy Trevor Young. Burke and Young were on a bit of a roll all weekend in terms of their catch numbers. “We are having a fabulous time up here,” Burke said. “Yesterday we probably caught and released 20 fish between my partner and me. As of this morning, before 9 o’clock, we have already caught and released eight fish.”
Among those having a successful weekend were young fishermen Sam Welch and Ritchard Fortinato, visiting Grand County with Sam’s mother Michelle Welch. The two boys dominated leader boards in various categories of the youth division all weekend. On Sunday they stopped into the weigh station to let Sam submit a fish that put him in first place in the 10 to 14-year-old age division.
“This is our third year here,” said Michelle Welch. “This is Ricky’s [Ritchard’s] first year. My son and Ricky are best friends. He wanted to bring him here. They are having a ball.”
Not everyone out on the ice was having as much luck though, including Boulder resident Jacob Griffith, competing in the TLIFC for his 15th year. Griffith and his companions typically fish Lake Granby Friday and Saturday for the tournament but were trying their hand on Grand Lake Sunday morning. “We have been doing fair,” Griffith said. “It has been a little slow this year, everything has been either too big or too small. We can’t quite seem to catch that sweet spot.”
Griffith added he was happy with the weather conditions on the lake Sunday morning and even though the temperature was hovering somewhere around zero degrees it was a significant improvement over the minus 20 degrees many folks encountered Friday morning.
The final awards ceremony for the tournament was held Sunday afternoon in the Granby Community Center. Hundreds of contestants, event organizers and spectators filled the main hall of the Center as TLIFC Fish-Master Bernie Keefe read off the list of winners. Granby Chief of Police Jim Kraker assisted Chamber Director Langley by handing out trophies and prizes.
Among the winners was John Ota of Wheat Ridge who participated all three days in the TLIFC. Ota took home a fourth-place finish in the brown trout division Friday and walked away with a third-place finish in the rainbow trout division Sunday during his 11th year competing in the TLIFC.
“It was excellent out this year,” Ota said. “It was tough in the mornings because it was so cold, but today was the best day by far. It was beautiful.” Ota fished with a group of three other men from Wheat Ridge and was the only one among the group to take home any prize money. “The rest of my group didn’t do too hot,” Ota said. “They were on the leader boards for a while but got knocked off.”
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