Finding Big Fish in Fremont Lake
Big Fish Ice Fishing Derby
by Dawn Svalberg
They came from all over Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, and even someone from Austria to take part in the Pinedale Boat Club's annual Big Fish Ice Fishing Derby on Fremont Lake. On Saturday, the weather started out blustery with true Wyoming blizzard conditions. Later in the day, the clouds parted, wind died down, and there was blue sky and sunshine. The fishermen didn't seem to care. They were outside, fishing pole in hand, and it was a great weekend of being with good buddies, family members, telling fish stories and drinking beer.
Kent, Gary and Howard left Rock Springs at 4:30 in the morning Saturday driving the 100 miles north through blizzard conditions for the derby. They said they were "doing a lot of fishing, but not a lot of catching." They didn't seem to mind one bit though as just being there fishing was as important as catching fish. They were well equipped with their 4-wheelers, sleds, ice augers, heaters, comfortable chairs and warm clothing.
Shawn from Riverton, Stan from Shoshone and Michael from Kelly, Wyoming were in another group enjoying their day out on the lower end of the lake. The big fish weren't particularly cooperating for them either, although the fish finder beeped indicating there were fish down there. Asked if they were having any luck, they said not much but, "We like to fish, so it just don't matter."
Fishing camps were set up in people's favorite spots on 11-mile long Fremont Lake and everyone had plenty of elbow room inbetween, unlike some derbys where fishermen are packed elbow to elbow to get a spot. If the fish weren't biting one place, fishermen had their pick of 11 miles of lake to try and find a better spot! The ice at the lower end was anywhere from 18" deep to 3-feet deep, depending on who you asked and perhaps how much beer they had consumed or how inclined they were to interpret ice depth like they tell fish stories. Everyone seemed to be having a great time and no one seemed to have been deterred by the morning blizzard, which later gave way to more friendly weather.
Every couple of minutes someone on a snowmachine or 4-wheeler would come racing across the lake to Lakeside Lodge where Boat Club members were headquartered to weigh and measure the fish that had been caught. The biggest fish of the day wins a $1000 prize. There are also $100 prizes for the biggest rainbow and brown over both days. $100 prizes were given for the biggest fish every hour. The biggest fish overall gets their prize mounted for free from Sublette Taxidermy.
The big fish by 3 pm Saturday was a 17.8 pound, 39-1/4 inch Lake Trout caught by Ron Antil from Etna, Wyoming. However there still was another hour for someone else to beat his prize for the day. Lake trout were the most commonly caught fish during Saturday ranging from 3-17 pounds. A fisherman from Utah caught a 22" German Brown and a Pinedale fisherman caught an 18" rainbow. Near the end of the day on Saturday, Casey from Rigby, Idaho came in with a Mackinaw to be weighed. It came in at 21-1/4" and 3 pounds. The smile on his face said it all to sum up what the fishing derby is all about!
The Derby continues on Sunday from 7 am - 2 pm. There will also be a Trout Unlimited Kids Derby on Sunday morning from 9 am - noon at Lakeside Lodge, free for kids 12 and under.
The Pinedale Boat Club sponsors several events throughout the year. They begin their summer season with a pancake breakfast and horseshoe pitch in early June. Later that month, they sponsor the Father's Day Fishing Derby (members only). In August they hold their annual Little America's Cup Sailing Regatta on Fremont Lake, a two day, five-race competition for sail boats of all kinds. They wrap up the season in late August with a cookout.
During late winter, the club places a barrel out on Fremont Lake. Then in April, the club sponsors a barrel guessing contest fundraiser to determine when the ice will melt off Fremont Lake causing the barrel to drop into the water. The prize is $500. Deadline for barrel guesses is midnight, April 1. Memberships in the Pinedale Boat Club are available for $15/person or $30/family. For membership information contact Ron Wilson, P.O. Box 206, Pinedale WY 82941 or call 307-367-2422. More information about the Boat Club is available on their web site.
A special thanks to the sponsors of the Hourly Big Fish prizes:
Lodge at Pinedale, Faler's General Store, Country Lane, High Mountain Real Estate, Tegeler & Associates, Cowboy Bar, Pinedale Lockers, Bottoms Up Brewery, The Place, Bank of Pinedale, Ponderosa Bar-Green River, 1st National Bank of Pinedale-Vernon Delgado, Outfitter Liquor, Pinedale Roundup, Pinedale Sinclair