Monday, January 27, 2014

Have you dealt with an "ICE HOLE" lately ?

 We made our annual trek to Ely, Nevada, location at Cave Lake State Park to be more specific.  For years we have been attending the annual Rotary Fishing Derby to have some great winter fun.  Its a 250 mile trip one way for us.

While there is a chance to win a tagged fish and a chance at the Grand Prize of $5000, many flock to the event to just enjoy a day on the ice.  Most years the sky is blue and daytime temps in the thirties and forties.  Of course night time temps dip to below zero.  This year the ice was easily 14 inches thick.

The Rotary Ice Fishing Derby does it up right.  For more info on the Derby click the following link:  Ely Website with more info  You need to fill out an entry form and send in your entrance fee.  Make sure the new entry form is loaded on their site for download.  Don't end up with the previous years and perhaps showing the wrong date.  

The event actually starts the evening before in town, during the beat the rush registration process.  This is downtown at the Bristlecone Convention Center.  150 6th St.  Ely, Nevada.  Everyone that has entry forms check in.  Or you can register there at a higher fee.  All entered get 2 free adult beverages and all sorts of free finger food.  Purchase raffle tickets for great prizes later in the evening.  Many mingle and talk fishing.  It seems to be a universal language.  Men, women, children, and most years we have seen the physically challenged in wheelchairs.  If you have the fishing bug I guess nothing keeps you off the ice?

The next day on the ice you will see commercially purchased ice sleds.  Others have homemade elaborate sleds.  “We aren’t just fishing out here” some have been quoted.  It’s the equivalent to any tailgate party, at any major sporting event.  A small city materializes on the ice.  Gas camp stoves, BBQ's, Dutch Oven cooking, Tents, heaters, and yes....I have even seen someone out there with the TV watching a game somehow.  Maybe it was a DVD?

Grilled burgers and drinks are available to purchase if you want to go "light".

We thought we would get ahead of the crowd this year.  We knew finding close parking at the late is at a premium.  We left our motel room, and drove up to the lake in the dark arriving at 6AM.   We were amazed to find all the good parking spots gone, and the ice already being covered with fishermen.  People were staking their claims to their section of ice.  Gas Lanterns casting light across the cold ice, tents going up, ice holes being drilled, fires started and a number of other activates.  It was about 6 degrees at this point of the morning.  Brr!

Fishing is not allowed until 8am, when it is announced by a cannon blast from up on the hill by the ranger station.  So everyone was scurrying around getting ready, then relaxing until the start of the derby.  Camp stoves were heating up coffee and breakfast.  With no wind this day, you could catch the smell of coffee and hot food drifting by.

Those with all the creature comforts amaze me.  Tents, floors to insulate from the cold, gas heaters, cook stoves, BBQ grills, lanterns, comfortable chairs, and way much more.  It’s not uncommon to see someone with a fish finder and its probe hanging down into the ice hole.  This is serious stuff!  Serious fun too!

You could feel the concussion of the cannon blast in your chest, clear across the lake.  The suddenness of it makes you jump.  With the huge cloud of billowing smoke from the cannon the 2014 Derby was off to its start.

Throughout the day a cannon blast would announce someone had just checked in another tagged fish.  If that was your fish I can only image the excitement.  For us out on the ice it meant one less tagged fish was swimming around under the ice.  Our chance of paying for the trip dwindling!

Regardless of the tagged fish it was fun to be out on the ice, out on a beautiful small lake, up in the mountains.  It was time to pour a steaming cup of coffee, set back in the chair, and look at the beautiful hills surrounding us.  The crisp air and the sun warming your face.  Easy to drift off on a nap… Oops… to go.  Something is jerking my a bite! 

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