HAUSER, Idaho -- A recent weekend free ice-fishing event at Hauser Lake, organized by Idaho Fish and Game, was a chilling success in luring people of all ages to try the sport.
Although agency staffers and three helpers from Cabela's in nearby Post Falls were signed to run the event, Idaho Fish and Game officials gave a big special thanks for service beyond the call of duty to the three sportsmen. They were ice fishing when they saw the organizers overwhelmed by people eager to borrow fishing gear from the Take Me Fishing trailer.
"The three anglers put their gear away and helped the newbie anglers for the rest of the day," said IFG spokesman Phil Cooper.
Cooper counted more than 260 people at one time getting gear or on the solid 8 inches of ice trying to hook a fish.
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Two IFG biologists were drilling ice fishing holes as fast as they could with a gas-powered auger.
The volunteer crew helped at least 350 people get a taste of fishing -- as well as a taste of the 496 hot dogs and 23 gallons of hot chocolate served free to the crowd.
"The fish were not as cooperative as we would have liked, however, there were some yellow perch, bluegills and one large largemouth bass caught," Cooper said.
"One man stopped as he was leaving and said he had a blast and had never ice fished before because he had always been afraid to walk on the ice. I asked him how old he was and he said he will turn 70 in a week. So, for him, this event helped him overcome 70 years of reluctance to go ice fishing. He said he was heading from the event to Cabela's to buy an ice auger."
People participating did not need a fishing license during the hours of the event, regardless of age or whether they were from Idaho or Washington.