LAST EDITED ON Jan-24-15 AT 10:11 PM (MST)
My goodness, what it day it has been at Fish Lake. I want to thank everyone that participated and for those that traveled so far and made such a tremendous effort to help us with this project.
We had sportsmen and their families from Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada and Utah and possible other States that I didn’t have the opportunity to visit with.
Now that the Fish Lake Perch Tournament has concluded, I’d like to share a little information about the event.
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and Utah’s Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife held a fishing clinic at Fish Lake last February and decided, after the success of the clinic, maybe we could hold a tournament and help remove some of the over populated perch from the Lake. In November of 2014 UDWR asked SFW-Richfield Chapter if they would host the tournament and we agreed. In reality, the UDWR did the yeomen’s share of the work, prior to the tournament and during the tournament. SFW’s was able to provide the seed funding for the prizes for the tournament and provide a few volunteers to assist the UDWR folks at the tournament.
We estimated “not more” than 300 participants. And good ice by January 24, 2015. We still had open ice on Fish Lake on January 12. From that day until today, we watched the ice slowly build and were still concerned as last as Tuesday January 20. The UDWR checked ice depth every day from January 12, including this morning at daylight. By this morning, with a week of cold nights and relatively mild but still cool day time temperatures, the lake ice grew in thinness, from 4 inch to as much as nine inches. The UDWR pronounced it safe, but encouraged appropriate caution and discourage ATV use on the lake. The participants were wonderful, and respected and honored the request. We all had a near perfect day on the lake.
We knew interest had grown beyond 300, early last week, but had no way to know to what extent. The Burbot Bash at Flaming Gorge was canceled and we knew we would get a hit from there, but again, had no idea to what extent.
We increased our registration locations from one to five. UDWR sent out a call, State wide for assistance from their employees, dozens responded, from as far away as Vernal. SFW sent it's Fishing Coordinator Kenny Smith and SFW volunteers traveled from Provo, St. George, Cedar City and Beaver to assist the small Richfield Chapter.
By 8:00 a.m. this morning, with tremendous effort and hard work by the UDWR and SFW’s folks, over 1,500 perch fishermen were on the ice and catching perch, before noon the count had exceeded 1.700. Our goal was to remove 10,000 perch from Fish Lake. While I have know way of actually know what the total removal was I am confident that is exceeded that number and may have exceeded it by a considerable amount.
We started out with the $2,500 from SFW, to provide prizes/incentives and before we completed our effort we gave out over $6,000 worth of sporting goods, thanks to our very generous business community, that donated outright and/or provided deep discounts for the prizes and raffle items.
I spent the entire day, from 5:45 a.m. until we wrapped up the event at 4:00 p.m. visiting with participants and volunteers. I never received a single negative comment, not one, not from participants, volunteers, UDWR personnel, US Forest Service Staff and Sevier County Sheriff’s Department, Sevier County Emergency Rescue the Fish Lake Lodge owners or anyone else.
I was truly an amazing day. I am so grateful for Heather Talley and Richard Hepworth, UDWR Biologists from the UDWR Cedar City Office who dreamed the dream and did the work along with outstand support from UDWR employees from across the State, the State Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife Executive Officers, who provided the seed funding, and the many SFW volunteers that worked tirelessly, all day long, to make this event a success.
Thank you, thank you for coming, thank you for bringing such a great attitudes and thank you all for being the great people that you are and for supporting the outdoor lifestyle that we all love and want to preserve and grow for future generations.