On Saturday, hundreds of people showed up to brave frosty temperatures to have a chance at pulling a fish from ice-covered Jewel Lake in southwest Anchorage. The event was free and full of opportunity -- if not always success. Now in its 25th year, the Jewel Lake Ice Fishing Jamboree is sponsored by the Swim Like a Fish Foundation. The ice fishing was open to everyone. Holes were pre-drilled, and volunteers handed out ice fishing poles and bait to anyone who wanted to try their luck.
The hunched backs and eager faces were plentiful early Saturday morning, even if the fish were not. Before noon on Saturday, the temperatures hung in the mid-teens, with winds blowing steadily. As for the fishing: It seemed that the only thing biting was the frost. Some fish were pulled from the inky black water, but few had luck finding their finned quarry. And not for lack of opportunity.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game stocked Jewel Lake with more than 3,000 chinook salmon, raised at its newest hatchery, in early February. Thousands of rainbow trout -- left in the lake after summer stocking -- were also reportedly lurking under the ice.
"I am a little cold, but I don't care because I caught a fish," said Tyler Serguin, 12, looking proudly at a 10-inch rainbow trout he had just pulled from one of the hundreds of pre-drilled holes in the Jewel Lake ice.
"I haven't even seen a fish, but I think this ice fishing jamboree is a great idea," 23-year-old Sonya Bartos said as she fished with two friends.
The Jewel Lake Ice Fishing Jamboree continues on Sunday, Feb. 9 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Contact Sean Doogan at firstname.lastname@example.org.