Three Lakes Fishing Tournament under way |

Three Lakes Fishing Tournament under way

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi News
Grand County, CO Colorado
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News | Sky-Hi Daily News

Anglers from around the region are contemplating strategy, equipment and tackle for this year’s 23rd Annual Three Lakes Fishing Contest, held on Grand Lake, Shadow Mountain Reservoir and Lake Granby.

Contest organizers are expecting about 1,200 participants in the three-day event, during which anglers can win cash prizes on each of the three days for catching the biggest fish.

Dale Casteel, owner of Beacon Landing at the north end of Lake Granby, has fished the Granby reservoir waters for 15 years.

And if he could give one nugget of advice to anglers entering this year’s fishing contest – Jan. 28-30 – it would be to “stay mobile,” he said. “Don’t find a spot and stay put all day.” Fish can be found all the way from the spillway to the pump canal, he said.

Casteel has been encouraged by this season’s catches, so far.

“I’ve seen fish caught this year that would win the contest,” he said.

Lake Trout are usually found around structure at different depths this time of year, said Richard Crager, owner of Budget Tackle in Granby.

Lake Trout bite on “tube jigs and a piece of sucker meat,” he said, and for Rainbows, “little jigs, wax worms and meal worms.”

On Wednesday, Crager was getting ready for his annual marathon weekend, the largest weekend of the year for the tackle supplier. Crager’s store stays open from 6 a.m. on Thursday to midnight on Saturday. He and wife Margaret take turns working and sleeping.

“Lake Granby is in pretty good shape,” Casteel said of conditions.

Last weekend, slush on the lake worried contest organizers, but over the week that slush had firmed up, he said. The lake ice, which is about 8 to 12 inches thick, now has ruts and ridges from where people traveled earlier, so he cautions anglers to watch their speed on the lake.

This year’s contest is similar to last year’s in the way of big-fish pay-outs each day under four categories: Mackinaw, Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout and the Grand Slam, which is a catch of each of the species plus a Kokanee salmon.

With first-place awards at $600, first- through eighth-place prizes amount to over $5,000 per day, each day of the three-day contest, rather than prizes awarded only on the final day.

Since participants can enter one, two or all three days of the contest, organizers hope to see a boost in participation, which has tapered off from several years ago when the contest drew 2,500 contestants.

The contest was reconfigured to offer more cash and prizes rather than the grand prize raffle of a new truck.

“A lot of people didn’t want to pay the taxes, licensing and registration for it,” Crager said.

With the new format, “A lot of new people were winning last year, that was our goal,” Casteel said.

This year’s raffle includes a new snowmobile valued at $8,400, an ATV valued at $5,500 – both on display at Power World of Granby – an ice auger worth $395, a Grand County travel package worth $300, an ice hut valued at $190, a gear wrench set at $75, and binoculars at $70. All contest participants are entered into the raffle, and people need not be in the contest to enter multiple times.

Children, too, are encouraged to drop their fishing lines for a chance to win prizes, according to Casteel. This year, sponsor Penley Concrete Forming is supplying trophies for children with winning fish. Children of three age categories could also win gift certificates from area businesses.

“It’s usually a big event for us up here,” Casteel said of the annual contest. “As long as we have good weather, the turnout is pretty good.”

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