The shortest month of the year proved to be a great month for those who entered the 21st Soldotna Trustworthy Hardware &Fishing Annual Ice Fishing Derby with 318 fish being brought through the ice and registered.
According to Scott Miller of the family owned Soldotna Hardware this year saw over 1,000 participants signing up to get out on the ice for this year’s event. Derby winners packed into the store last week to claim their prizes and awards with the kids as excited as a Christmas morning,
“It’s awesome! The smiles on the kid’s faces when they come in with their fish and come back to get their prizes is why we do this every year,” said Miller at the awards ceremony. “The little guys had some big fish this year.The Minnow Division six and under saw a three pound rainbow brought through the ice by a three year old. That was Aaron Kratsas and that’s a big fish. Then Alice Voight at age six completed a grand slam getting out there with her parents and grandparents and caught six different species. That doesn’t happen by going to just one lake and one trip, it’s a big effort, but what a thrill that she’ll remember all her life,” said Miller.
And the youngest fisherwoman to land a fish this year was also from the Voight family, “Ariel Voight at one and half years old caught her first fish before she can even walk. The Voight family has been a long time participant in the Ice Fishing Derby. Ariel’s dad Jeremiah got started in the Derby when he was in high school and now his kids are following in his footsteps and it’s pretty cool he’s teaching his daughters and kids around him how to fish and enjoy Alaskan winters,” added Miller.
There were also some huge fish brought in for the open division that included for the first time a catch and release division, “Jasmine our new derby queen this year made a special measuring tray for catch &release where they would take a picture and bring it in. That was an exciting division this year with Kendra Pisa taking that top honor this year. There were some huge fish caught and released which means they’ll be bigger next year and may even be caught again. The largest fish in the open division that was brought in to the store was caught by Anthony Bunch with an 8.09 rainbow trout. Anthony also won other divisions with nice salmon, lake trout, grayling and northern pike so he put a big effort into this year’s event. We love it this is what Alaska is all about getting out there with your family and having a good time enjoying life and teaching kids how enjoy Alaska and we get so much support from our vendors and the community, the State Troopers donate the bikes for the minnow division and John Iverson hand carves the trophies. We truly appreciate everyone who comes in during the derby we hate to see it end but it’s worthwhile and we’re looking forward to next year,” said Miller.