The Saratoga Sun -

Derby No. 30 sees blue skies


The weather was perfect for the 30th annual Ice Fishing Derby. Saturday and Sunday the skies were blue and the wind hardly whispered its name at Saratoga Lake where 585 contestants tried their luck for the prize money. With temperatures ranging between 35-40 degrees, it seemed a heat wave had descended upon the derby after below zero temperatures the week before.

The attendance was up this year by 57 entries due in part to a new women’s division which 76 contestants entered.

The huts were set Saturday morning and the earlier the better. All of the first, second and third place fish, including the small fry division winners were caught within the first three hours of the derby. The big fish hit early this year, and last year it was the same case.

Josh Yates won the overall competition last year with a fish that measured a total of 37.25 inches and Yates caught it in the first 30 minutes of the contest.

“I caught that fish at 7:30 a.m. Saturday and had to sweat it out the entire derby last year,” Yates said.

This year, 158 fish were officially measured and the results were tallied as the derby concluded Sunday.

The difference between first and second place was decided by half an inch.

Noah Fernandez, of Wheatland, won the $2,000 prize with a fish that had a length and girth of 35 inches.

Not far off that measurement was the second place, $1,000 fish. Ken Wilcox, also of Wheatland, hung a fish that measured 34.5 inches.

The third place fish caught by John Larson, of Rawlins, measured 33.75 inches and was good for $500.

Benjamin Swieter, of Keenesberg, Colo., won $100 in the small fry division for his fish that came in at 30.5 inches.

Three tagged fish made the mistake of eating the bait and won three lucky contestants cash prizes of $500, $250 and $75 respectively. Jonny Gomez, of Rawlins, hung the first tagged fish and Tim Armstrong, of Evans, Colo., caught the second tagger.

Robert Webster, of Rawlins, took the third tagger of the tournament.

Some contestants decorated their huts in hopes of winning the years’ bragging rights for the best hut of the derby. The results of the best hut contest were not available at press time.


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