Pinedale Boat Club Big Fish Winter Derby 2016
Fish Tails and Tall Tales
by Terry Allen
March 8, 2016
David Labriola and Steven Eldridge travelled to Fremont Lake all the way from Cheyenne for the Pinedale Boat Club Big Fish Winter Derby. They were looking for a local derby that might escape the 60 mph winds that blew all day at an event the week before, held at Curt Gowdy. They got in a little Friday afternoon fishing practice off Sandy Beach in a balmy 51 degree's with about a 2 mph whisper of a breeze; and drilled thru 22 inches of ice with a hand auger in less than a minute and then dropped bait.
Mitch Wolfe of Rock Springs brought his big brown in for weighing and felt good about his chances at a prize. "Itís the biggest Brown so far and I think itís gonna hold," he said. "But, while Iím in here, I know my buddies are out there poaching fish outta my hole, but I didnít tell them the secret."
A few steps away from the weigh and measure table, Kim and Brittany were placing their special homemade chiliís on the table. Brittany made the thick, rich ground beef version and Kim made her stunning top secret pork chop variety. The PinedaleOnline Chili Critic reviewed several bowls over the weekend and gave them both a Top Bean rating. Jim Summerall drove all the way across the lake from the East Bar to try a bowl and was all smiles, except he hadnít caught a fish yet.
A tall stern faced fishermanÖ a lot bigger than the photographerÖsaid he didnít want his picture taken. After washing some chili down with a beer, the photographer figured he might be able to stay out of the guys reach, so this hint is provided to the curious: 13.4 pound, 34 Ĺ inch lake trout.
Taking a walk around the fish camps near the lodge and out towards the boat ramp we found the following fish adventures:
About 60 seconds after walking up to where Kameron and Kaeden Sampson were fishing, Kaeden hooked into a nice 16 Ĺ inch rainbow that he thought he might keep and eat.
Dennis Lamoureux was out in the great white expanse of ice all by himself and felt it was a good plan. "I do everything I can not to spook the fish," he said. I donít know if they can see the bait is artificial or if they can smell my fingers from touching it, so I try not to touch it with my bare hands."
Kent Sojourner was fishing at about 120 foot depth and he said bringing them up from so deep is a little hard on them because their bladder expands painfully, so he planned on eating his. "Iíve got one about 23 inches Iím going to season with some Lemon pepper and some Spade L," he said. "Then Iíll smear it with mayonnaise, drop some capers on it, sprinkle parmesan cheese on top and bake it at 405 degrees for 25 minutes until the cheese turns brown and the fluid runs clear."
Hanging from the pole of John Visser, looking like an alien sea creature, was the rare and no longer made Airplane Jig. "They quit making them somewhere between 5 and 20 years ago," said John.
Cody Saxton from Pinedale brought his bow to the lake to pass the time until he got a bite.
About a minute after walking up on David Pape, he suddenly jerked his pole high into the air above his head and reeled in a 23 incher. "Iím using a white tube jig," he said. "Itís about had it, itsí got teeth marks all over it." David unhooked the fish and gently fed it back onto the hole in the lake without measuring it first. "They have to be 24 inches and that one was only about 23 inches," he said. The photographer hadnít seen a tape come out and raised an eyebrow. "I fish a lot," David said.
Nevin Griber weighed in a 23 pound, 43 inch lake trout which eventually claimed the Big Fish prize of the two day event. "I got him on a little white tube jig about one inch long and I was using 16 pound test line," marveled Nevin. "He did four big runs and a whole bunch of smaller runs. Finally, after 25 minutes I was ready to bring him up the hole but he was too big. I really had to tug on him to get him thru. On the way back, our snow machine died so I grabbed my fish and started running the half mile remaining to get to the lodge before he died. Luckily, Dad got the snow machine started again and we made it in time."
Steve Manning was the weigh and measure man for the event. "If we have two fish that weigh the same, the length determines the tie," he said. "Adults have to have 24 inches or better in the lake trout category, but kids can have any size."
Junior Arguello from Green River brought in a nice one to be weighed and said he prayed before the event. As a result, he had hooked into 9 or 10 fish but they had all gotten lose. "I decided to change my game plan and this time I muscled him in from 158 feet," he said.
James Burnside wasnít entered in the tournament but said he had been fishing in the same spot for 15 or 18 years with great success. Kenneth Carlton said a fish hit his bait so hard he wasnít fast enough to grab his pole and he lost it down the ice hole. "It was probably a lake trout coming in feeding that got it," he said.
From a long way off across the lake came a deep rumbling sound of an engine. It didnít sound like a snow machine or a four wheeler. It turned out to be an antique Snow Plane owned by Tucker Veilleux from Idaho Falls. He skied right up to the front of the lodge, the big airplane propeller stopped and he climbed out to have his 14.8 pound, 36 lake trout recorded. Then, the engine roared to life and he headed north and disappeared into the mist in search of a bigger one.
Mark Hines drilled some holes in the ice near the osprey nest at the boat ramp and then decided it was time for a beer in an easy chair. Mark explained why people mount big fish but donít eat them. "Thereís a lot of fat layers in big fish," he said. "Fish fat doesnít taste good. If Iím gonna eat a fish, itís gonna be under 24 inches. You can eat a bigger fish, but you have to leach all the fat out in a slow smoke." As we spoke the ice popped, snapped and groaned and let go with the occasional boom that sounded like someone had dropped a length of railroad steel onto the back of a trailer. "Yep, itís getting warmer and the lakes starting to settle," he said. All the ice noise and fissures running past as he sat didnít even make him jump. "No, I know how much ice is out here," he said. I could drive my truck out here if I wanted too."
Back at the lodge Orion Greenhalgh was weighing in. "This is the first fish I have ever caught all by myself," he said. "Iím going to eat him."
Enjoying the warmth of the lodge while waiting for the results and awarding of prizes, Lorelei Lamoureux told how she thought she might have the big fish of the tournament. "I hooked into something big," she said. "It was just pulling all my line out and heading north. After a while I was able to bring it back to the hole but it was feeling strange, like I had hooked a body. When I said that, everyone screamed and ran away. Eventually, I started pulling it up and it turned out to be a sail hooked to a sailboat mast. It was too big to get thru the hole so we had to move our tent to another hole so we could keep fishing.
At about 1:00 pm, Dylan Rohrer age 18 of Pinedale brought in a lake trout weighing 14.6 pounds and 38 inches long. "It was the only fish I caught all weekend," said Dylan. "It made quite a few long runs and it barely fit thru the hole. Me and my Dad have been coming here for 15 years and Iíve been helping with the Pinedale Boat Club events for the last three."
Greg Ptasnik was of Lakeside Lodge was very pleased with the event. "It was another great turnout," he said. "We appreciate being able to co-sponsor the event. We saw some nice fish and itís nice that so many young guys caught the big fish."
A historic black and white portrait of Big Fish winner Nevin Griber and his Big Fish will be hung at Lakeside Lodge and will remain there until another Pinedale Boat Club Big Fish Winter Derby winner bumps him off the wall with a bigger fish. After which, the photograph will go to Nevin.
Please zoom in on the two result board photos for full results of the event.
One final note. You may have noticed the horizon line on the lake in the photos tilts to the left a bit. No one knows why it does that, it just does. Visit Pinedale and see it for yourself.
For corrects, comments or to purchase full rez images contact Terry Allen: firstname.lastname@example.org