Annual ice fishing tournament returns to Eagle Nest

<strong><em>Editor’s Note</em></strong> <em>— Eagle Nest Lake State Park closed to all activities on the ice beginning Jan. 29. The ice fishing tournament was still scheduled at that time but might be canceled. Organizers planned to make a final decision a few days before the event is scheduled to start.</em>

EAGLE NEST — The 2014 ice fishing tournament at Eagle Nest Lake State Park is scheduled to kick off Feb. 8.

Registration will begin at 6 a.m. at the south boat ramp parking lot. Participants can start competing immediately after they register. The competition will end at 2 p.m., when the final horn sounds. Contestants must bring their fish in for measurement by 2:30 p.m.

Event coordinator Nancy Loritsch said the event drew 137 anglers from Colorado, Texas and New Mexico in 2013 and 144 in 2012.

For the second year in a row, the contest will feature a youth division for anglers 11 and younger. Entrants who are 12 and older will compete in the adult division. Contestants can choose from three entry categories: perch, trout and salmon, and pike.

Registration fees are $10 per division. All participants must also pay the $5 daily state parks parking fee for every vehicle on site. Fishermen can purchase fishing licenses and equipment from Eagle Nest Marina, which will open at 5:30 a.m. the day of the contest.

The anglers with the biggest catches will walk away with cash prizes. All participants will be eligible to win door prizes including ice fishing rods, bait and tackle.

Eagle Nest Lake opened to ice fishing on Jan. 10. As of press time, the lake was 9-10 inches thick. Warm weather and winds have caused ice conditions to deteriorate, and the lake remains closed to ATVs and snowmobiles. 

Sue Finley, manager of Eagle Nest Marina, said the ice fishing season got off to a good start. She said anglers caught a 7.5-pound trout on opening weekend.

“A good part of them are doing really well,” she said.

The recent full moon has made fishing difficult the past few weeks because fish feed at night when the moon is full, Finley said. With the full moon now shifting out, Finley said, ice fishing should pick up. 

“Now that we’re getting out of it, it ought to be good,” she said.

The fishing contest is being sponsored by Friends of Eagle Nest Lake and Cimarron Canyon State Parks, Eagle Nest Lake State Park and the Eagle Nest Chamber of Commerce. Loritsch said she hopes people come out and enjoy the festivities even if they don’t cast a line.

“We’d love to have everyone come out whether you want to come and fish or enjoy the pretty day we’re going to have,” she said.