Granby’s Three Lakes Fishing tournament looms |

Granby’s Three Lakes Fishing tournament looms

Hundreds of fishermen took to the ice of Lake Granby for the annual Three Lakes Ice Fishing Contest last year. This year, the tournament takes place from Jan. 23-25.
Byron Hetzler/ | Sky-Hi News

Grab your mittens and your pole and slip on your winter boots because Grand County’s famous Three Lakes Ice Fishing Tournaments begins next Friday, Jan. 23.

Hearty anglers from far and wide will ascend the mountain passes Thursday on their way to the shores of Lake Granby, Shadow Mountain Reservoir or Grand Lake. They will carry with them more than just fishing tackle and long johns; they will also take with them the hope of winning some of the $6,000 in prize money to be given away each day.

Tournament organizers expect a high turn out again this year. Last year saw just under 1,000 attendees make the journey to the frozen shores of Grand County.

“The fishing tournament is definitely on but due to the warm weather we had in December and January we are advising caution,” said Gayle Langley of the Granby Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the event. “There is only about 8 inches of ice as of last night. Specifically people need to be very careful around the canals and shorelines.”

“Worst-case scenario: If Lake Granby broke open the tournament would still continue. Folks can still fish on the other lakes.”
Richard Crager
Owner, Budget Tackle in Granby

The tournament will begin each day at 6:40 a.m. and end in the afternoon at 4:30 p.m. Contestants have the option of fishing any one of the three tournament days or fishing one, two or three days. There is a $35 one-day entry fee, a $45 two-day entry fee or $50 for all three days.

The tournament will include four different categories with cash prizes up to 8th place fish. The fish categories are: mackinaw, rainbow trout, brown trout and kokanee salmon. All mackinaw must be less than 19 inches to qualify.

Along with the standard four categories the tournament will also include the Grand Slam contest where competitors will need to catch one of each of the four types of fish. The winner will be determined by adding the weight of all four fish together.

For the tournament anglers are allowed to fish in Lake Granby, the Granby Pump Canal, Shadow Mountain Lake, Grand Lake and the Colorado River for 400 yards downstream from the Shadow Mountain Dam. There is no fishing permitted below Granby Dam.

The tournament is open to all ages. For anyone 16 and older both a Colorado fishing license and a Three Lakes Ice Fishing Tournament Registration Form is required to weigh any caught fish and claim prizes; children 15 years and younger only need a Contest Registration Form.

Each entrant is allowed only one cash prize per day. Winning fish will be determined using largest weight. If two or more fish weigh the same amount the fish entered and weighed earliest will win. Tournament organizers will not accept frozen fish for entrance and weighing.

Judging the tournament this year will be Grand County fishing guide Bernie Keefe.

The category a fish is to be entered in must be declared before weighing and measuring.

To keep the folks fishing honest the Three Lakes Tournament’s official rules state, “winners will be subject to a polygraph exam as part of contest requirements. In the event deception is detected the entrant’s prize will go the person with the next largest fish.”

Honesty will be extra important for the Big Fish Catch and Release competition where anglers will go by the “honor system”. The contest is for fish over 32 inches. Participants will be required to either photograph their monstrous catches or get a witness’s signature attesting to the veracity of their claim.

You can download the Three Lakes Ice Fishing Tournament registration form online by going to You can also register by calling the Granby Chamber of Commerce at (970) 887-3895.

Preregistration for the event will be accepted through Wednesday, Jan. 21. You can register the day of the event at Budget Tackle and Granby Bait n Tackle or at Rocky Mountain Outfitters in Grand Lake. Budget Tackle and Granby Bait n Tackle will be open 24 hours a day during the three-day tournament.

Richard Crager, owner of Budget Tackle in Granby is busy prepping for the three-day marathon next week.

“We will be open from 6 a.m. on Thursday through midnight on Saturday,” said Crager. The shop will also be open on Sunday with reduced hours. The increased hours are necessary for the fishing store.

“Usually we do about 70 to 80 percent of the intake on registration forms,” he said.

Crager also discussed concerns over the ice thickness on the lakes.

“The ice on the lake is always a concern to some people,” he said. “On average the first of January or the first week of January is when Lake Granby freezes. Because the lake is so full this year it is harder to freeze. It froze on New Years Eve.”

Crager highlighted the fact that Grand County has had relatively warm temperatures lately but was not bothered by it.

“The last three nights we have had fairly decent cold. We still have another week to go before the contest. Worst-case scenario: If lake Granby broke open the tournament would still continue. Folks can still fish on the other lakes.”

You can find more information on the 3 Lakes Fishing Tournament by going to the Granby Chamber of Commerce Web site at

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