By Robin Mayo
Saturday, April 1st marked the 8th Annual Family Ice Fishing Day sponsored by WISE and BLM. About 135 people of all ages ventured out the McCarthy Road, which provided a diverse Alaskan driving adventure, with falling rocks, ice, slush, mud, and a sneak preview of the spring pothole season. Luckily our lakes are slower to respond to warm spring temperatures. The Ice on Silver Lake was a good solid 40” thick, and volunteers from the Glennallen BLM office drilled holes on Friday evening to be ready for the crowd on Saturday.
Fishing was a little slow compared to the past several years, but there was still plenty of action, and some really beautiful rainbow trout caught. In the past Silver Lake was stocked by Wrangell-St. Elias National Park with trout from Summit Lake, which is across the Chitina River south of Silver Lake. The trout are not native to Summit Lake, they were introduced illegally long ago. More recently, Silver Lake has been stocked with hatchery fish by Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Some fishermen speculate that the hatchery fish are not as robust as the wild-raised ones, accounting for smaller fish and lower survival rates.
The goal of this event is to give families a chance to learn about Ice Fishing even if they don’t have their own gear. WISE and BLM provide fishing poles, jigs, bait, and instruction. Inside a tent, an underwater camera allowed a peek at the world under the ice. Attendees enjoyed cooking hot dogs and s’mores over a fire in a barrel, and slurped down gallons of hot cocoa, coffee, soup, and chili.
The day’s biggest fish was a 22 incher hooked by Hunter Terrel, 2nd went to Taylor Dolge’s 20” Rainbow, and 3rd place went to a 19.5” fish caught by Rafe Caruthers. Close behind were many beautiful fish caught by enthusiastic youth of all ages.
We awarded this year’s Helping Hands award to Aubrey and Emory Hankins, who helped set up, lettered signs, and brightened the day.
Awesome Attitude Awards went to 5 year old Isabella Neahr for her boundless enthusiasm, brothers Gabe, Zane, and Rafe Caruthers who hiked across the lake many times to record their catch, and Sully Holt for his great positive attitude and eagerness to learn. All of the kids showed great sportsmanship, and it was a delight to watch them patiently fish, and excitedly celebrate their catches.
A great crew of adults also worked hard to make the day a success, including Tim Sundlov, Mike Lindsay, Jan Miller, Jesse Hankins and Robben Taylor from the BLM Glennallen Field Office. Laurie Thorpe comes out from Wasilla each year and does everything from arranging the famous plastic flowers to untangling countless yards of fishing line. Heidi Hatcher and Seth Williams helped with rigging poles and fishing tips. And of course this event would not be possible without Janelle Eklund and Paul Boos, who let us descend on their quiet lakeshore for the day.
Hunter Terrel celebrates catching the biggest fish of the day. Laurie Thorpe Photo
Who We Are
WISEfriends are several writers connected with Wrangell Institute for Science and Environment, a nonprofit organization located in Alaska's Copper River Valley. Most of these articles originally appeared in our local newspaper, the Copper River Record.