The ice fishing tournament at Vallecito Reservoir completed its fifth year Saturday with a 5-pound catch and 153 participants from around the country.
Competitors arrived early to attempt to snare the winning trout, pike, salmon or walleye known to be swimming under the ice. This year, Chase Ribble took home the first-place prize of $750 with a 5.12-pound rainbow trout. Richard Samora took second-place with a 2.42-pound rainbow trout, and Dave Peterson received third-place with a 2.12-pound rainbow trout.
The event is hosted and organized by the Vallecito Conservation and Sporting Association. It serves as a fundraiser for the nonprofit, providing 20% to 25% of its operating budget, said Tony Shurts, board president.
“Due to COVID we were unable to have our major fundraiser this year. We are far behind what we are accustomed to operating,” Shurts said in an email to The Durango Herald. “We hope to have another fundraiser or two.”
The tournament drew people from California, Arizona, New Mexico and the Front Range, he said. Competitors showed about 25 to 30 rainbow trout at weigh-in, although only 14 made it onto the leader board. No pike were caught.
The second-place results were contested after 14-year-old Darron Boling was disqualified for not fulfilling a permitting requirement.
The nonprofit hosts archery shoots and a two-day kids fishing clinic where, in the past, each child received a brand-new rod and reel. VCSA is also sponsoring a Coast Guard Safe Boating class this summer, Shurts said.
As the operating organization for the Vallecito Marina and Yacht Club, VCSA plans to invest $100,000 in infrastructure to develop an all-inclusive family rate for non-motorized water “toys” such as canoes and paddle boats. It also plans to create a sandy beach area with volleyball courts and a playground, Shurts said.