The second day of the Still Cold Open Tournament on Big Lake, Alaska presented some challenges for the anglers before they even began to target fish. Recent heavy snow coupled with a few days in the 40's, created standing water between the snow pack and ice. Much of the water is due to overflow which is created from the weight of the snow causing pressure on the ice and allowing water to flow through cracks and crevices in the ice. The second challenge was the near white out conditions from steady winds and sustained snowfall. To start the day, 30 anglers carefully set out to their fishing holes, most bypassing the pond sized puddle that formed on both exit ice roads out of Burkshore Marina.
Reports from some anglers reported success early. The team which won today's qualifier, Fish Reflections, stated, "we had our six fish by 11am". Josh Hughes and Jim McCormick, manage to get a hold of six fish for 111 inches. Josh's 25 inch Arctic Char anchored the teams limit in a big way. They were very pleased as they earned automatic qualification for the championship and secured the top spot in points through two days.
Second place finisher of the day and championship qualifer, Angler Management, Kyler Johnson and William Crane managed a six fish limit totaling 100 inches. Third place was AK Hardwater, the team of Mike Fezatte and Bart Colegrove who finished with five fish for 81 inches. This is their second time in the top three having earned championship qualification on day one. They currently are tied for second in points for the year.
Big fish of the day, for the second tournament in row, goes to the team of Alaska Light Gear Squad, Shane Hofstad and Lucas Horn. The caught and measured a 27 inch Arctic Char, biggest fish for the tournament series to date. Unfortunately, they were unable to pair this giant with many other measurable fish and slipped from holding the top spot in points coming into today, down to fourth.
Myself and Joey Dombrowski, Double Action 2.0, had another respectable day with 5 fish for 75 inches finishing the day in 4th, and tied for 2nd overall in points with AK Hardwater. All of our measurable fish were Rainbow Trout as we did not find any decent sized char that were willing to wrap their lips around our lures. All of our fish came before 11am and we spent the rest of the day trying to find number six. We like to thank Eagle River Arctic Cat, Burkshore Marina, Yakima Baits, Lowrance Electronics, Frabil, Eskimo Ice Fishing Gear, Maxima Fishing Line, Shimano, Power Pro, Bait Cloud, Aqua Vu underwater viewing cameras, Bio Lume by Aqua Vu, and Chevrolet which all contributed to our success today.
Big Lake is producing some top quality, lake bound, Arctic Char that are fat and healthy. This population of resident fish is served by the Still Cold Open's format of catch, measure, and release. They do not allow possession of fish and all fish (except pike) are returned to the water during tournament hours. Please keep in mind, some organizations require the mandatory kill of these trophy fish for certain derbies. An unnecessary measure that can and should be mitigated by the organizations, Department of Fish and Game, and ethical derby anglers. Get involved and petition to stop mandatory kill fishing derbies, there are other methods to meet the intent as Still Cold Open demonstrates.
Thank you for reading. Day 3 of the Still Cold Open on Big Lake is February 11th. There is still time to qualify for the championship through points or daily top three automatic bids. If you want a challenge, Big Lake, and it's extremely healthy Arctic Char, is your huckleberry. Point standings are listed below.