CARY – Dawson Gorski held up his thickly gloved hands about 9 inches apart.
The Wauconda 13-year-old was indicating the size of the small largemouth bass he and his friend Pam McLean caught while ice fishing Saturday afternoon on Lake Atwood.
Gorski, his best friend and neighbor, 14-year-old McLean, her grandfather, Robert Blass of Lake Zurich, and his brother, Kerry Blass of Crystal Lake, were among roughly 200 people who enjoyed MCCD’s first Frosty Fishing Fair.
The McHenry County Conservation District hosted the event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at The Hollows in Cary. Event-goers enjoyed demonstrations, a fishing rod raffle, instruction from Crystal Lake Anglers club volunteers and more.
“It was something we were planning, but didn’t know if it would be a go until Wednesday because of the ice conditions,” said Mary Kozub, the MCCD education outreach program coordinator who organized the event.
The ice on Lake Atwood measured 5 inches thick Saturday, an inch over the district’s safety threshold.
A fall stocking of trout helped push the Frosty Fishing Fair onto the district’s calendar, Kozub said.
Adding to the fun Saturday was Tim Hicks of Music in Motion, while members of Boy Scout Troop 222 of Crystal Lake served up hot soup, chili and hot dogs, and representatives of Trout Unlimited showed off equipment, offered safety information and presented a fly-fishing demonstration.
“We wanted to highlight the recreational opportunities MCCD has,” Kozub said. “A lot of times, people just don’t realize the things that are available in the county, and the things MCCD does.”
A cold rain arrived in the area by late afternoon, but the sun shone throughout much of the fishing event. And even as clouds and an increasingly frigid wind chill arrived about 12:30 p.m., all was dry except for the auger holes dotting the lake.
Seated on 5-gallon buckets near two of those holes were Eric Runck of Huntley and Dave Seimer, a Maple Park resident and Crystal Lake Anglers member who was there to share his ice fishing know-how – as well as some of his equipment.
Fifty-year-old Runck, the principal at Fox River Grove Middle School, said he enjoyed the opportunity to learn from a veteran, and added that he was considering taking up the sport.
“I haven’t caught anything yet,” he said, gently tugging up and down at the line dangling from a small jigging rod. “But I’ve had several bites. It’s nice just to get out instead of being cooped up in the house all day.”