Record turnout, record fundraising at Stagecoach for ice fishing tournament
STAGECOACH — The Steamboat Ice Fishing Tournament drew a record 478 registered anglers to Stagecoach State Park on Saturday. The weather was ideal — starting out cool, but warming up under blue skies and abundant sunshine.
There were also 74 youth contestants, and another 200 or so people joining the registrants for a day on the ice — some cozied up in huts and others basking in the sun.
There were novices, who had never spent time sitting by a hole in the ice, and experts, who travel across the country in search of year-round fishing.
The tournament was hosted for the third year by Brady Wettlaufer and his business, Steamboat Fishing Adventures. Wettlaufer said he couldn’t have been happier with how everything went, from the turnout and the work of his team and Stagecoach State Park to the “amazing” sponsors who make it possible. “It was awesome,” he said.
Every youth participant received a tackle box full of gear, thanks to the generous sponsorship.
When Wettlaufer went up a hillside on a snowmobile to get a view from above, he said the site of so many people camped out on the lake made him choke up a bit.
“Everyone came together and enjoyed a day on the ice and raised money for community,” he said.
|PRIZE||ANGLER||Total Length||Trout 1||Trout 2|
|1st Place Trout:||$4,135.00||Richard Robinson||40″||20.5″||19.5″|
|2nd Place Trout:||$2,270.00||Dusten Clark||39.5″||21.5″||18″|
|3rd Place Trout:||$1,675.00||Michael Beck||39.25″||20.75″||18.5″|
|Longest Pike:||$2,500.00||Pete Walker||23.25″|
|1st Place Youth:||gear, trip||Cooper Hyland||39″||21.12″||17.87″|
|Most Pike:||gear||Lynn Kopasz||6 Pike|
The tournament is in its ninth year, and when it started, there were about 40 or 50 people, said Corey Spakes, office manager for Stagecoach State Park. Before enlisting the help of Wettlaufer, Spakes organized the event for several years, during which participation doubled every year.
Spakes said a significant number of people came this year from the Front Range, largely thanks to Wettlaufer’s outreach efforts.
The park was “jam-packed,” Spakes said.
They also raised more money than ever before. The total generated for prizes, charity and raffle was over $25,000.
The Soroco High School Science Club received $4,900. In previous years, the tournament has been able to send the Soroco robotics club to Denver to compete and buy egg incubators for the classroom. Friends of Stagecoach also received $4,900, which goes toward providing equipment for visitors to borrow, like fat bikes and fishing gear.
And everyone stayed safe, Spakes said. The ice was stable and did fine holding the hundreds of snowmobiles and four-wheelers criss-crossing the ice. There was one incident requiring first aid, he said — a Band Aid application for a fish hook injury.
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