Hundreds have frozen fun hooking trout, cash prizes at 9th annual Panguitch Lake ice fishing derby

PANGUITCH LAKE — The ninth annual Panguitch Lake Fishing Derby attracted hundreds of people onto the ice Saturday, with many participants seeing success. A total of $1,700 cash and other prizes were awarded to the top contest winners.

The 9th annual Panguitch Lake Ice Fishing Derby, Panguitch Lake, Utah, Jan. 2, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Panguitch City events manager Steven Lee said this year’s event had a total of 312 registered participants, including 57 five-person teams.

Lee estimated that in addition to the registered entrants, there were a few hundred more people on the lake, as many anglers brought their families with them, while still others were there just for fun.

Although a good number of those in attendance were from the Southern Utah, Lee said the event attracted plenty of folks from other parts of Utah, in addition to Nevada and other neighboring states.

Popup tents dotted the shoreline all around the edges of the thousand-acre lake, as participants set up their temporary campsites in hopes of catching a grand prize-wining fish.

Once the anglers had bored their way through the 12 inches of ice and dropped in their lines, it didn’t take long for many of them to start landing trout.

Excited shouts of “I’ve got one!” were heard from adults and children alike. Most of the trout that were being caught appeared to be of good size, weighing 1-2 pounds and measuring between 14-18 inches long.

Anglers reported success with a various baits, including mealworms, pieces of cocktail shrimp and rainbow power bait.

A young angler holds her recently caught trout at the 9th annual Panguitch Lake Ice Fishing Derby, Panguitch Lake, Utah, Jan. 2, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Timing was everything, and unfortunately, one man reacted a bit too late to his pole bending down toward the water. Before he could grab it, the fish on the other end yanked the entire pole through the hole in the ice, never to be seen again.

Overall, however, participants fared well, as evidenced by the large number of trout brought in to be weighed and measured at Ace Hardware in downtown Panguitch at the end of the day. In order to qualify to be counted in the contest, fish had to be rainbow trout caught between the designated contest hours of 5:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“There was so much fish that it took much longer that expected to weigh them all,” Lee said. “Buy the time we announced the winners, it was dark and cold outside.”

Lee added that the high level of participation helped them identify some areas to streamline for future events.

Each angler was allowed to keep no more than four fish total, per Utah fishing regulations.

Top prizes were awarded as follows in the team competition, along with adult and youth under 18 categories:

  • Five-person team, heaviest total catch, $500 cash (maximum of 20 fish total): Team Dodds, 53 pounds, 1.4 ounces.
  • Five-person team, Mayor’s Choice award, $150 pair of binoculars: Cedar Boyz / Team Tony Dinges.
  • Individual heaviest fish, $500 cash: Jory Owens, 4 pounds, 1.4 ounces.
  • Individual longest fish, $500 cash: Luke Tobey, 20.5 inches.
  • Youth longest fish, $100, and youth heaviest fish, $100: McKay Dorius won both categories for his monster trout weighing 4 pounds, 4.1 ounces and 19 1/8 inches long.

In addition thanking all the participants and sponsors, Lee expressed special appreciation for the employees of Ace Hardware for furnishing prizes, hosting the awards event and weighing, measuring and recording everyone’s catches.

“The did an outstanding job given the tremendous workload,” Lee said of the hardware store’s staff.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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