Jan 29, 2012 - By Joshua Scheer, Staff WriterThe Wild West Winter Carnival Ice Fishing Derby was in full swing as fishermen from across the state gathered Saturday on the ice at Boysen State Park.
Park ranger Kurt Needham said the ice on the reservoir varied in depths from 16 to 20 inches.
"There's a few soft spots here and there," he said.
The derby was under way at 8 a.m. Friday, and as of mid-Saturday morning, there hadn't been any reports of individuals having trouble with thin ice.
Park ranger Jeff Quillen said there had been no major compliance issues, and that it had been a quiet weekend so far. Rangers from Sinks Canyon and Keyhole state parks as well as Cody were called in to help.
Fishermen at Fremont Bay reported ice at 16 to 17 inches, and none seemed concerned that recent unseasonably warm weather was cause for concern.
In fact, seeing pick-up trucks and campers in the middle of the reservoir was a common sight, as well as people moving from place to place on four-wheelers.
Derby organizer Jackie Stone said the number of derby-registered fishers had not been calculated yet, but fishermen who had been involved previous years said there seemed to be fewer people out than normal.
Dave Eisenman and Gary Bare, both of Sheridan, came down Friday to join the tournament.
Eisenman had been once before about four or five years ago, he said.
"Didn't even have a bite," Bare said of Friday's fishing.
"But you know," Eisenman said, "a bad day fishing is better than a good day at work."
At about 10 a.m., Eisenman was trying to untangle a third line to set up for the day, while Bare had already set two lines set and was lounging in a chair smoking a cigar.
"We haven't got to the beer yet," he said. "It's a little early."
The two chose not to drag a trailer with them from Sheridan and instead were spending their evenings in Riverton.
Others, however, spent their nights on the ice.
Brothers John, of Riverton, and Gary Arndt, of Rock Springs, spent the night in the camper and were enjoying a feast of pancakes, eggs and bacon.
"He got two, and I missed two," Gary said of the fishing.
John said the two of them had been coming out for the tournament for at least 25 years. Neither had ever won anything in the contest, but John once got an award for a photo he took at one of the winter carnival's snowmobile races.
Despite the slow fishing, both were pleased with the weather.
"This is the warmest I can
remember," Gary said.
A few hundred yards away, Dave Baldwin, of Riverton, manned his six fishing holes with friend Karey Clark and his dog Honeydew.
Baldwin had spent Thursday and Friday nights in his camper, waking occassionally to check his lines.
Clark drove out Saturday morning to join him.
At 3 a.m. Saturday, Baldwin hauled in an 8.7-pound walleye.
"Dedication says it all," he said.
"It's been a good year for big fish," he said while displaying photos of other recent catches.
When asked how long he planned to stay at Boysen, he said, "Til I get more bored than what I am."
Fishermen had until 1 p.m. Sunday to bring in fish for the official weigh-in.
As of late Saturday morning, the largest of the different categories were: perch at 1.13 pounds, ling at 4.7 pounds, catfish at 11.14 pounds, trout at 4.05 pounds and walleye at 10.03.
Registration was $10 per person, and that money was used toward the prizes awarded to the four heaviest fish in each category. Fish could be taken to Walkers VP Bait Shop and the B&K Shoreline Stop to be weighed.
Tickets were not sold after 10 a.m. Sunday.
Awards for the derby winners were scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday at the Shoreline Stop.
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