The arctic- cold temperatures lately, have made perfect conditions for ice fishing.
And even if it warms up a little, Rifle Chamber CEO and President Frank Ladd will still be smiling this weekend at the 14 annual Rifle Gap Ice Fishing Tournament.
" It's supposed to warm up toward the end of the week," Ladd said Tuesday.
But recent cold temperatures, well below freezing, have thickened the ice at the Gap over the past couple of weeks providing a solid foundation for the widely popular tournament.
" We've got ice and we're in pretty good shape," Ladd said.
According to the latest fishing report from the Colorado State Parks, the ice measured 9 inches at the thickest point on the west end near the boat ramp on Jan. 9-10. Other areas were reported at 7- 8 inches, however, there remains a bit of open water near the eastern end of the reservoir that anglers need to be aware of. The ice is thinnest on the east end.
The Chamber nixed the event in 2011 due to unusually warm temperatures. But, with the weather cooperating this year, the event is back. And Ladd expects good things.
" We are looking forward to a big year," Ladd said.
Ladd said that turnout for this year's tourney is pretty good, but there are still a few spots left for those last minute entrants. Space is still available. Entry fees for the tournament is $ 50. Kids 17years and younger fish for free.
The fishing tournament is a two- day tournament. Space is limited to 400 adults and 200 kids, ages 17- years and younger, according to Ladd.
Registration can be done online at www.riflechamber.com, or by going to the Rifle Information Center and filing out an entry application.
Entrants can register up to the start of the event at 8 a. m. Saturday, however, Ladd said that it's preferred to have everyone signed up by noon Friday.
Registered anglers can go to the Visitor Information Center in Rifle between 3- 7 p. m. Friday to sign in and receive a gift bag.
The tournament has three age categories including two youth divisions: 10 and younger, 11- 17, and the adult division. Anglers in each age category will compete in three separate divisions of rainbow trout, brown trout, and yellow perch.
Anglers in the junior divisions will receive prizes for the top place finishers while adults will compete for a cash prize of up to $ 500 and a chance to win $ 20,000.
The tournament is organized by the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce, City of Rifle, Colorado State Parks and is sponsored by Rifle Comfort Inn and Suites, Rocky Mountain Liquors, and Well Master Corp. The event is also a fundraiser for the Colorado Sportsmen Wildlife Fund.