MOLSON – Despite recent reports of catches on Sidley and Molson lakes, none of the 96 anglers registered for last Saturday’s NW Ice Fishing Festival were able to land the big one – or even a little one.
There were 74 adults and 22 youths who registered for the contest on Sidley Lake, according to Robin Stice, who organized the annual event for the Oroville Chamber of Commerce.
“We didn’t have any fish caught so I talked it over with the chamber president and we decided to put all the names of the registered fishermen in two hats and draw names for the top three places in adult and youth divisions. We will roll over the grand prize into next year’s grand prize making it even bigger,” Stice said, adding that this was the first year that nobody caught a fish.
Between the six top place prizes and all the raffle prizes awarded back at the Molson Grange Hall, many of the contestants left with something.
In the adult division, the first place prize, a $150 Cabela’s gift certificate, went to John Benlesdorf; second place, an ice auger from Prince’s Department Store, went to Roger Harnack and third place, $25 in cash from Kinross Gold and an ice fishing pole and fishing kit from Prince’s Department Store, went to Bud Forthun. At 68-years-old, Forthun also won “Oldest Fisherman” which had a prize of a “fancy flashlight” from Oroville Building Supply, said Stice.
In the youth category, Sam Flether won a cash donation of $75 from Kinross Gold for first place; Benjamin Scheidemantle won an ice fishing pole from Eden Valley Guest Ranch and a tackle box from Cabela’s for second place and Connor Forthun, a past tourney winner, won a $25 gift certificate from Cabela’s for third place.
To start the day out right members of the Molson Grange prepared a breakfast for anglers and others who wanted to partake.
“They served 193 breakfasts,” Stice said.
While the fishing contest was going on there was an arts and crafts fair in the Grange Hall and it had the most participants of any of the festivals that have preceded it, according to Stice. At 1 p.m. Gary Forgey gave a demonstration of his dogsled team and those that were lucky got to catch a ride around the course set up near the Molson Schoolhouse Museum. Later a six-piece bluegrass band performed in the grange hall and the Sitzmark Ski Club served a fundraising dinner. After that the fishing prizes and raffle ticket winners were announced.
The money raised by the ice fishing event is used to help fund the visitor information center.
“When I first conceived of this idea I had three goals in mind – make sure that we are able to assist visitors to the Oroville region, preserve the history and culture of the area by living it and seeing the families get outside and enjoying the outdoors,” said Stice. “That definitely happened.”
Stice said Kinross Gold Company was the big prize donor and that the $300 they donated for the grand prize will go into next year’s pot. Prince’s Department Store and Cabela’s were also big supporters and other local business in Oroville donated to the raffle prizes. She especially thanked Thompson Bees for the donation of an adult and a youth helmet and the Camaray Motel for donating one night’s stay at the motel.
“The weather was outstanding and since no one caught any fish I’ll be talking to the fish biologist about how rare that is since people were catching fish there like three days before.