Portola natives, Nick Gonzales (left) and Jimmy Reynolds sit around a small fire on the ice. The ice was more than 11 inches thick, making it a solid enough surface, even for a fire. Photo by Carolyn Carter
More than 160 adventurous people caught fish and a good time at John Pato Sr’s third-annual Ice Fishing Derby at Lake Davis on Saturday, Feb. 2.
The derby required the competitors to brave the frozen lake in hopes of catching the lake’s largest trout.
All of the proceeds from the tournament go to the American Cancer Society. Pato said his middle son and mother both suffered from cancer.
“Its one of those things that affects everybody,” he said, “It really is a good cause.”
Pato said he started the tournament when he made a comment to his friends about how he could probably put on a pretty decent ice-fishing derby.
“It was kind of a dare,” Pato said.
With people coming from as far as San Diego and Santa Cruz to fish for a trophy, “a pretty decent ice fishing derby” is an understatement.
The tournament winners were judged based on length and weight of the best fish they caught. Each competitor was allowed to catch five fish, but only could present two at the weighing station.
There was a $200 prize and trophy for the winner, a $125 prize and trophy for second place, and $75 and a trophy for third.
But, even if competitors did not win the competition, chances were they’d still be leaving with a prize. The community, including big-name stores like Cabelas and Sportsman’s Warehouse, donated more than a hundred prizes to the tournament.
The masses of people out on the 11 inches of ice were all in good spirits despite the cold. The competition was tough, but the winners ended up all being local.
First place was awarded to Paul Salas from Loyalton with his 23-inch fish. Second place went to William Cary from Portola with a 21.3-inch fish, and third place went to young Trenton Mlakar from Portola with his 21.2-inch fish.
Pato said he was very pleased with the turn out, especially the business it brought to the community and hotels in the area. He said he couldn’t have done it without the donations and support from the community.