The Annual Three Lakes Ice Fishing Contest kicked off last night with a party at the Indian Peaks Marina on Lake Granby. The event plays host to over 1000 anglers drilling and dropping lines tracking to bag the best of each category. The event is a three days of fishing, stories and fun for the participants and local volunteers.

Lake Granby, Shadow Mountain Reservoir and Grand Lake play host to anglers from all over the country trying to net the big ones.  Jessica Blair, Granby Chamber of Commerce director said, “Numbers are up significantly over last year. We are hoping to have over 1400 participants this year.”  Some of this growth is attributed to excellent ice conditions and great fishing.” adding we are really excited because Channel 9 News team from Denver will be covering the tournament this year.

Bernie Keefe one of the tournament officials and local fishing guide has been out almost everyday and said the fish are “still very active throughout the day it should be another great event.” Keefe shared his weekly fishing report which stated, “Grand Lake and Lake Granby are fishing very well. Rainbows and a few browns are in shallow water eating bright colored jigs and spoons. Early mornings have been best. Lake trout are active in 30-80′, small plastics tipped with sucker meat have been doing very well. Slab spoons have also been producing lots of fish.” Keefe wanted to remind anglers that the conditions vary and “Always be careful and check the ice as you go out.”

This year the Tournament Committee decided to move the weigh station and event headquarters to Indian Peaks Marina which offers 3000 ft of heated space, high visibility and ample parking which makes the event sustainable for years to come.

Blair said, “We would like to thank North Shore Resort for years of hospitality!”  We decided to move the station to make it more centrally located to Lake Granby and as the tournament grows it just makes sense.

“Most people don’t realize that this tournament is a labor of love.” Blair said the event is put on with a year’s worth of planning, a handful of volunteers and a couple of staff members. “The Granby Rotary is a huge help. Many of them help as parking attendants to make sure all the trucks and big rigs get parked safely and in an orderly fashion.”  Blair added, “Others are greeters, help with the awards ceremonies, record at the weigh station, assist with fundraising, run errands, build villages on the ice, and much more!” Jessica added, “We really come together as a community for this event and it is a joy to host.”

Budget Tackle in downtown Granby stays open for over 24 hours to make sure that anglers coming in late can get what they need and offer up information on conditions or fishing.

The community supports this tournament year after year.  It is a tradition for many families around Colorado and some local families like Harms & Sons have participated in the event every year for 31 years saying “we intend to keep that tradition alive for generations to come.”

We spoke to several of the local restaurants and lodging owners last year after the tournament and most of them said the economic impact from this 3 day event is huge for them. For Colorado Cabin Adventures, the manager shared that on a typical weekend in January they have many vacancies but are completely full during the tournament.

Blair said, “Bringing in several thousand people for the long weekend certainly gives businesses that would otherwise struggle a much needed boost.”  Adding if business owners get creative and do special promotions or events, like this years Frozen Fish Toss at the Lariat Saloon in Grand Lake, we can spread the word and help pack their establishments!

Blair said the Granby Rotary team will be setting up a “mini village” on the ice this year. “The new village is a great way to showcase local merchants and vendors.” There will be a couple of food and beverage options with hot cocoa and chilli for the visitors plus there are several activities planned for the kids in the village, as well.

The contest is Friday, Saturday and Sunday this weekend and fishing begins at sunrise each day. Cash prizes will be awarded to anglers in several categories.  Of course the largest fish always makes a great story but conservation is high priority for organizers and Blair said, “Our rules are drafted to protect our fish and the lakes we love for the future!” Noting, “We give back 5% of our profits to the ANRA each year to ensure sustainability.”

Speaking of the ANRA, many continue to work and make sure things are running smoothly even through the furlough. “It takes a village and we are just glad to be a part of it!”