Trophies, cash and fun times on the ice at the 3 Lakes Ice Fishing Contest
Ford Williams feels like the luckiest man in the world after this weekend’s 3 Lakes Ice Fishing Contest. Not only did he win $1,250 placing in several categories, he won the grand prize drawing on Sunday afternoon at the final awards ceremony.
On Friday Williams won 2nd place in the Grand Slam. He won 1st place Grand Slam on Saturday and 2nd place in the Brown category on Sunday. Then, on Sunday he won the Grand Prize: a Vexilar FLX 28 fish finder, a fishing package that included a 2-night stay at North Shore Lodge, additional cash, and a City Market gift certificate.
“Everything just came together,” he said. “I landed the fish and then the prize. I’m really lucky.”
Williams is from Silverthorne and competes in the contest every year.
“This contest is so exciting. It’s like opening day of hunting season.”
On Sunday he fell into the canal landing the fish that ultimately won it for him. And, a few people saw it and came up to him on Sunday during the award ceremony, laughing and shaking his hand.
“I’m the luckiest guy on earth,” he said beaming with his trophy and prize money on Sunday at the Granby Community Center.
“The key to winning,” he said, “is being persistent and staying out there in all weather. You beat out the crew who can’t take the weather.”
Tom Brueggeman shared in the winning glow of the weekend with Williams. Brueggeman won 8th Saturday and 3rd on Sunday in the Brown category.
From Silt, he has been coming up to Grand County for 25 years. These two fishing buddies have stayed friends over the years competing in ice fishing contests all over Colorado.
“You get to know everyone and it’s just so fun,” he said.
On Friday, Robert Kohlwey of Granby took 1st place in the Mackinaw category. After a day of high winds and sun, Kohlwey took home the 1st place trophy. This is his third year fishing the tournament. Last year he took second place. He credits winning to his salmon bait, knowing the hot spots, and using a GPS.
Kohlwey didn’t know until the award ceremony that he won. Not only does he get a trophy but he takes home a check for $600. His niece, Jessica Kohlwey took 1st and nephew, DJ Kohlwey won 2nd in the youth division.
“They were catching more than I did,” he said.
“They put on a great tournament and it is great for the kids, they really enjoy it,” he said.
In the Brown category, Randy Zamora of Arvada took 1st place. This was his seventh 1st place trophy in all the years the contest has taken place. Zamora rents a cabin from January to March every year and comes to Grand County every weekend to fine-tune his craft on the ice.
“It’s just to have fun and to get out of the city,” he said.
On Saturday Zamora placed 6th in the Brown category and on Sunday placed 1st in the Rainbow category.
All weekend Bernie Keefe, a Grand County fishing guide, served as weighmaster and announced the winners each day at the award ceremony. His duty as weighmaster was to make sure length and weight are accurate.
“I measure every fish exactly the same and I get a lot of grief,” he said.
“I look at all the rules and make sure they are all legal. We have a polygraph test and will test people if something doesn’t look right.”
The crowd was happy and everyone had a good time, he said.
“This contest is so good for the community and we had a real positive atmosphere all weekend. We are trying to make this event better so any suggestions should be emailed to email@example.com.”
There were 999 anglers participating in the contest, a 25 percent increase compared to last year, according to Cathie Hook, Executive Director of the Granby Chamber. She and several others helped organize the event including Granby Main Street and Event Manager, Gayle Langley, the Grand Fishing Committee, and many volunteers.
“The tournament is a great economic boon to the area on a weekend when not much else is going on besides skiing,” said Hook. “The sport of ice fishing is growing. Hotels and lodges in Grand Lake and Granby were mostly full on Saturday night and there were waiting lists for the restaurants over the weekend.”
Some convenience stores ran out of essentials and the tackle stores had a fantastic weekend, she said.
In addition, there was a great turnout for the welcome parties in Grand Lake sponsored by B &K Distributors (Coors). City Market was up 8.9 percent over the same weekend last year. Kum n Go reported that food sales were up 27 percent and that other sales were up 36 percent.
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Several recent mudslides and debris flows on Colorado Highway 125 have caused the US Forest Service to close surrounding roads and trails.