Fishing for funds

The wind thrashed across the frozen lake, kicking up swirls of snow. The temperature dipped well below freezing, burning lungs and stinging eyes.
And yet dozens of fisherman braved the open ice, hoping to become the champion of the first annual Lake Bomoseen Ice Fishing Derby fund-raiser.
The derby, hosted by the Castleton State College football team, took place on Saturday January 26.
Football coach Marc Klatt wanted the team to host the event to get more connection between the college and residents from the surrounding towns.
“It’s my hope that people in town recognize the faces of the players,” said Clatt. “I want them to be more than just a sports team; I want them to be part of this community. And I want the community to support the team.”
The planning of the fund-raiser began to take shape back in November.  They coordinated with the Fishtail Tavern of Lake Bomoseen to help host and offer a warm place to grab a bite to eat throughout the day.
The team also worked on various forms of advertisement for the event, including posters in local fishing shops and announcements on ice fishing websites.
“Our goal was to get the word out there and to generate some excitement,” said Colleen Klatt, dean of College Advancement and Marc’s wife, who helped with the organization.
The word did indeed circulate, with 83 overall entries and many participants from out of state. The registration fee for a participating adult was $30 and was $10 for a youth participant.
There were four different types of fish being targeted; perch, trout, bass and northern pike. Each fish species represented a category in which the fisherman could take home first, second or third place, depending on the size of the fish caught.
Fisherman Gavin Brough had trudged out onto the ice before sunrise that morning, with plans  to take home the prize winning perch.
“It was damn cold out in here in the dark, but you need that kind of commitment if you wanna win,” he said, with small ice
crystals already having formed on his eyelashes. “Commitment, moral support and of course some ice cold beer,” Brough laughs as he and moral-supporter Kevin Ellis raise Coors Light cans in their chapped, un-gloved hands.
Brough has been fishing for more than 20 years, but only during the winter. His thrown together shanty, constructed out of two by fours and torn blue tarp, and leans slightly on its side in the snappy wind. Brough’s original shanty, a handsome, solid little building, now sits on the bottom of the lake, under a thick blanket of ice.
“I brought my shanty out here a few weeks ago, and then we got that warm spell,” Brough said, peering at it through one of the holes he drilled that morning. His shanty sank through the softening ice before he had time to recover it. But even this cannot dampen his spirits on such a bright winter day.
“It could have been worse, the only casualty was my box of Strawberry Poptarts,” he laughs.
Brough wasn’t the only fisherman dedicated enough to overcome the many obstacles of the sport.
Castleton alumni Dave Wood woke at 3 a.m. to make the drive over from Whitehall, NY.
“I love being out here, on my own in the quiet darkness of the frozen lake,” Wood said, bundled around a steamy mug of coffee. “I get to think and enjoy the outdoors.”
The Beayon brothers Austin, 11 and Noah, 5, also enjoyed the outdoors, skipping from hole to hole, racing each other to check their lines.
“I am going to win, I can feel it,” chirped Austin, who despite his young age, is no stranger to ice fishing competitions. “It’s not even cold, I don’t know what the grown-ups are complaining about,” added Noah, only his rosy cheeks and grin visible beneath the layers.
As the afternoon drew to a close, the participants gathered around the board that displayed the largest fish, some still throwing out an occasional twitch as a last attempt of freedom.
Overall the day was a success, with a majority of the entry money going toward the purchase of new football equipment.
“Everyone seems to be having a good time,” said Coach Klatt. “I think this is a good start to something that will benefit the team and the town.”

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