Anglers get skunked, but Ice Fishing Fest awards over $2,000 in prizes

No Fish to Fry: When there's no fish to fry why not try cooking up the bait? That's what James and Josh Gasho did at last Saturday's NW Ice Fishing Festival on Sidley Lake. The two seven-year-olds roasted (or is that smoked) some mini-marshmellows on the

No Fish to Fry: When there’s no fish to fry why not try cooking up the bait? That’s what James and Josh Gasho did at last Saturday’s NW Ice Fishing Festival on Sidley Lake. The two seven-year-olds roasted (or is that smoked) some mini-marshmellows on the

MOLSON – The 8th Annual Northwest Ice Fishing Derby finished on Saturday, Feb. 18 with the awarding of over $2,000 worth of prize money and raffle winnings.

Unfortunately no fish were caught for the second year in a row, but participants said they were having fun anyway as they tried to coax a trout onto their line. Fishing this year took place on both Molson and Sidley Lakes for the festival, which is sponsored each year by the Oroville Chamber of Commerce and hosted by the Molson Grange.

“The weather held and we had a reasonably nice day with ice reported between 16″ and 18″ thick,” said Robin Stice, organizer of the annual event which takes place in and around Molson.

“This year there were 78 adult and 13 youth registrations. Several youth registered as adults, which paid off for a couple of them as they won adult prizes. Other than oldest and youngest fisherman, all other prizes are awarded based upon the weight of the fish. However, for the second year in a row, no fish were caught! Some participants had fish finders and could see a few non-responding fish.”

The prizes were handed out based upon a random drawing of the names of the participants. Kenneth Cyr, of Omak, walked away with the $500 grand prize, which was sponsored by Kinross Gold of Republic. Silver sponsors included Beyers Market Place in Tonasket and Prince’s Foods in Oroville. First Place Adult was $100, sponsored by Beyers Center Market Place and went to Garret Fletcher, Moses Lake. Second Place Adult, an ice fishing auger donated by Prince’s Department Store was won by Wyatt Thomas. Third Place Adult was $50, also from Silver Sponsor, Beyers Center Market Place and went home with Ron Moser, Moses Lake.

The Mystery Weight prize was an ice fishing combo rod and reel donated by Prince’s Department Store won by Cameron Thomas. Bryan Sawyer of Oroville snagged the Adult Smallest Fish award valued at over a hundred dollars, which was a nice rod/reel/line set donated by Midway/Oroville Building Supply. Leo Wahl of Spokane, was determined to be the Eldest Fisherman at 79-and-a-half-years-old and was awarded a steak dinner by FB’s Family Grill in Oroville.

Silver Sponsor, Prince’s Foods covered both First Place Youth for $75 to Hunter DeVon, Oroville and Second Place Youth, $50 which went to Victoria Sidorszuk. Nulton’s Irrigation sponsored Third Place Youth with $25 going to Drake Duncan also of Oroville. Eden Valley Guest Ranch purchased a brightly colored ice pole combo for Youth Mystery Weight , won by Bill Kriner. Reman and Reload sponsored Youth Smallest Fish at $20 that went to Nathan Rice, Oroville. The Sterling Bank Fun Basket went to Gus Ugaldea, as he was determined to be the Youngest Fisherman at age six-and-a-half.

Over 30 businesses and individuals donated prize money or raffle items to the event. The grand prize won by Maria Miller for the raffle was a Getaway at the Camaray Motel (two nights lodging, meals at Linda’s Bakery and Hometown Pizza plus a massage session at Leah Cathryn’s Day Spa.

The Oroville EMT’s were on hand as this is the first time the tournament has been held on both Molson and Sidley Lake at once. The Okanogan County Search and Rescue were also on site with a huge bus restaurant and extra gear. Nancy Nessly of the Okanogan County Search and Rescue team presided as Judge and Lake registrar all day.

“Although Nancy was unable to weigh any fish, she provided many answers to questions all day,” said Stice. “This was the first year we were honored to have Dave Graybill, the Fishin’ Magician, Central Washington’s fishing ‘Outdoor Insider.’”

At Graybill’s request, Denny Hughes and Bill Avery and the team of the Okanogan County Search and Rescue demonstrated inflation and use of a rescue boat and discussed water rescue issues with those around.

Chef, Ray Ellington featured Cincinnati chili along with other selections from his Chef Shack on the edge of Sidley Lake.

The Arts and Crafts Fair, coordinated by Jeanette Lamont was the biggest and best ever with a myriad of items in the Molson Grange Hall from 7 a.m. to closing.

This was the eighth year Robin Stice, owner/manager of the nearby Eden Valley Guest Ranch, has spearheaded the event. She and an army of volunteers put on the event which is much larger than the number of official registrants. Over 200 enjoyed a hearty breakfast put on by the Molson Grange, and over 80 stayed for the Italian Dinner sponsored by the Sitzmark Ski Area Volunteers.

The proceeds from the main event (from sponsorship, registrations fees and raffle tickets) go to the Oroville Visitor Information Center as well as the Sidley Lake Aerator Project. There are costs to putting on a festival with a fishing tournament that include advertising, paper, printing, and postage which our sponsorships also pay. Without our sponsors there would be no festival. The City of Oroville will also be assisting with advertising costs. This dynamic event draws people of all ages from all over Washington with some coming from British Columbia and sometimes a few from Idaho.

For more information about the event, email Stice at or Oroville Chamber of Commerce at

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He has a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.

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