Throughout the course of the past three months teams from all over South Central Alaska have converged onto Big Lake to compete in the Still Cold Open Ice Fishing Tournament Series. The tournament format provided five qualifying tournaments and a final championship showdown between the top 20 teams. Teams earned points based on finishes throughout each of the five tournaments. At the end of Day 5, those earning automatic qualification along with those placing in the top 20 were identified to fish the following day on March 12, 2017.
Day 5 of the tournament saw a shakeup of the leader board as the 1st Place team entering the day would slip to 4th. Fish Reflections had a near lock on winning the season points championship however a tough day of fishing with some key losses of hook fished proved to be the difference. Measuring only two fish for the day, they slipped completely out of the prize pool.
The team that would take their spot was AK Hardwater, moving up from 3rd place on a strong enough finish to take the lead. Remaining in second place entering and finishing Day 5 was Double Action 2.0. Moving from 4th to 3rd into the prize placement was the Mooney Boys. Day 5 winner, Drill Team Six gained the last automatic entry into the tournament.
Heading into the following Sunday some teams who posted big numbers on day 5 felt optimistic while others were feeling the pinch of their spots not giving up any quality fish. The fishing was good early in the morning, however with clear skies and a full moon the night prior, the fish would be full bellied by sunrise. The ability of light to penetrate on a full moon give the trout and char an opportunity to feed on the silhouetted bait fish during that nights conditions. This seemed to really effect the Char as the majority of the fish photographed, measured, and released on championship sunday would be Rainbows.
As the results started to come in, Team Ilannuk Kaluktuk (Joshua Gilbertson and David Robinson) took an early lead that they never dimished. Posting 6 fish for 107 inches, they would win the day and the SCO Championship. Entering the last day 10th in points and benefiting from an all or nothing last day format, they caught their first limit of the tournament season in a most timely manner. This team had progressed nicely throughout the year posting fish catches in every tournament which is something easier said then done. Gradual increase in confidence and willingness to try new areas proved to be the key to success. Congratulations to David and Joshua, the 2017 SCO Champions!!!
Second place on Championship Sunday was the Mooney Boys, Ed Senior and Junior, who finished the second half of the season as one of the strongest teams. The were able to manage a 6 fish limit for 96 inches. Ending the season on a strong note, they are looking eagerly towards next year for a little retribution.
Third Place on the day was another contender throughout the year, Hot Handz, Sandra and John Mitchell. The husband and wife team brought in 6 fish for 95 inches, just one inch away from 2nd place. Finishing in third was a great accomplishment as they also progressed nicely throughout the year highlighted by a week 4 win.
Week 1 Winner Team Alaska Light Gear Squad (Shane Hofstad, Lucas Horn)
Week 2 Winner Team Fish Reflections (Joshua Hughes, Jim McCormick)
Week 3 Winner Team Double Action 2.0 (Jason Perrego, Joseph Dombrowski)
Week 4 Winner Team Hot Handz (Sandra and John Mitchell)
Week 5 Winner Team Drill Team Six (Sonia and Dan Praslowicz)
Championship Winner Team Ilannuk Kaluktuk (Joshua Gilbertson, David Robinson)
Tournament Record Big Fish 27 Inches (Alaska Light Gear Squad, Hot Handz)
Tournament Record 6 Fish Total 118 Inches (Double Action 2.0)
Points Championship Race
1st Ak Hardwater 2 Hummingbird Ice 35 Flashers ($600)
2nd Double Action 2.0 Eskimo 43cc 10" Ice Auger ($460)
3rd Mooney Boys Sled and Eskimo Double Tent ($400)
1st Ilannuk Kaluktuk Champions Hoodies and 2 GFYS Custom Ice Rods ($200 and Bragging Rights)
2nd Mooney Boys Rod Case and Entry Fee returned ($100)
3rd Hot Handz Rod Case and Entry Fee returned ($100)
Special thanks to Jim McCormick for organizing the event, Shane Hofstad, Scott Lee, Josh Hughes, Jason Perrego, Bob Masher your board of directors for game planning the rules, format, and structure of the tournament and various sponsors who contributed to the event's success such as Burkshore Marina, Sportsmans Warehouse, and Big Lake Power Sports. Until next year, fish on!