Camaraderie and cash


Colorado winters offer many opportunities for ice anglers to get out and test themselves on the ice. The lineup of ice-fishing tournaments include the Rifle Gap State Park tournament on Jan. 19–20 and the Collbran Lion’s Club Vega Reservoir tournament on Feb. 2.

You never know what you may catch through the ice. This tiger trout was caught at Utah’s Scofield Reservoir by photographer Derek Elverud.

The angling run on Colorado’s ice gets serious this month, led by the 15th Annual Mountain Air Mechanical Ice Fishing Tournament set for Jan. 19–20 at Rifle Gap State Park.

This is one of Colorado’s top ice-fishing tournaments, attracting upwards of 400 anglers vying for the chance to win $20,000 in cash in addition to cash prizes for longest fish in several categories.

And this year there is plenty of ice on Rifle Gap Reservoir (10 inches reported last week) to accommodate the anglers and all of their equipment.

Anglers will come from all over Colorado and several surrounding states to enjoy the camaraderie and fishing during the two-day tournament.

“I have a pile of registrations on my desk,” said Gina Reece-Long, events coordinator for the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce, the long-time tournament cosponsor. “There is this whole group of people who travel around the state to these tournaments, and that includes people from Utah and elsewhere.”

Registration is limited to 400 adults (18 years and over) with no limit on anglers 17 and younger.

Adults can win up to $500 cash for longest brown trout, rainbow trout and yellow perch (prizes for first through fifth), and youth anglers can win noncash prizes for longest fish in those species.

“I’m pretty sure we’ll hit the limit on adults, and I think we’ll get around 100 youngsters, at least that’s what I’m hoping,” Reece-Long said. “The kids seem to do really well here.”

Early registration ($35 adults) has been extended until 8 a.m. Jan. 14, and procrastinators still may preregister 
Jan. 18 from 3–7 p.m. at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Grand Junction and at the Rifle Chamber’s information tent in Rifle.

Tournament sponsors include Mountain Air Mechanical (title sponsor) along with the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce, Colorado Sportsmen Wildlife Fund and Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

More information is available on the Rifle Chamber website,

It doesn’t hurt to pre-fish a bit, as at least two anglers already have figured out.

“I heard from a couple of fishermen in the last week who have been fishing at Rifle and were talking about all the fish they caught,” Reece-Long said. “One guy said he would have won last year’s tournament with the fish he caught.”

The next local ice tournament will be the 2013 Collbran Lions Club Vega Reservoir tournament on Feb. 2.

Entry fee is $50 (free for 17 and under), and you can enter up to the day of the tournament. Registration on Feb. 2 begins at 7 a.m., according to tournament director Glenn Stoll.

There is limit of 200 participants and cash prizes (first through fifth, adult division only) will go to longest fish.

A list of ice-fishing tournaments around the state, including the 11 Mile Grand Slam and the Lake City Ice Fishing Derby, is available at

As with all ice-fishing tournaments, all anglers 16 years and older must have a valid Colorado fishing license. Also, all vehicles entering state parks must have a parks pass.


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