33rd Annual Jewel Lake Jamboree goes virtual

A lone ice fishing tent out on Jewel Lake in Anchorage on a snowy February afternoon.
A lone ice fishing tent out on Jewel Lake in Anchorage on a snowy February afternoon.(Taylor Clark)
Published: Feb. 10, 2021 at 7:24 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Rather than canceling the 33rd annual Jewel Lake Jamboree, this year’s host and owner of the Bait Shack, Dustin Slinker, said they “got creative like everyone has had to with their events” and went virtual. But it’s not a bad thing, the way Slinker described it.

Slinker told the story of how the event started as something for the kids, called Salmon in the Classroom Project. Slinker said the Alaska Department of Fish and Game would drill hundreds of holes in Jewel Lake and stock it with fish daily to show Anchorage School District students how to ice fish and get them interested in the activity. Then the weekend would come and the public was invited.

The event used to be constrained to the one lake, but now because it’s virtual, it doesn’t matter where an Alaskan who wants to participate is located.

“So that means whether you’re on the Kenai Peninsula or in the North Star Borough, you can go out to your favorite lake, catch fish, and then share your pictures with us,” Slinker said. “Because we want to see what you guys got going on up there, and we want to share that with everybody else.”

Slinker said it’s easy to participate. All it takes is a picture with your catch and a tag The Bait Shack on Facebook and 12 people will be selected to win prize packs put together by local fishing sponsors. Slinker said there’s no pressure when it comes to the prizes. The winners will be picked at random from the tagged pictures, no biggest fish or most fish to be considered.

The heart of it all is to get outside and not let the winter pass us by even in hard times Slinker said. Even though it doesn’t look the same, he said it’s still an event meant to get Alaskans outside, and enjoying the thrill of fishing and participating as a community.

“This is the first time the whole state has been invited. And it’s been — I don’t want to say overwhelming — but it’s been a good response. We’ve got big fish coming from the interior people are sending in, we’ve had fish coming up from the peninsula, we’ve had pike, we’ve had burbot, rainbow trout, landlocked salmon, lake trout, so it’s just awesome,” Slinker said.

ADF&G restocked Jewel Lake with coho salmon earlier this week.

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