Action County: Ford Williams
Ford Williams’ 1989 migration from the Front Range to Summit County took place under what he considers slightly unusual circumstances.”I’m one of the weird ones,” Williams said. “I moved up here to fish instead of ski.”Williams, who was born and raised in Broomfield, expanded his fishing repertoire soon after moving to the mountains.”I’m a heavy fly fisherman, that’s my background,” he said. “But I got really tired of cleaning my eyelets when they iced up during the winter. I couldn’t cast because I was busting ice off my guides all the time.” As it turned out, Williams’ mild frustrations steered him toward a new hobby.
“I started to enjoy fishing in the hut where it’s a little warmer,” he said. “After doing it a bunch, I really grew a passion for it.”Summit’s ice fishing community welcomed Williams, who began to make more and more friends out on the ice. He eventually partnered with Silverthorne’s Perry Apfelbeck to compete in various ice fishing tournaments throughout the state.Williams said he was drawn to the man-against-beast dynamic that defines fishing competitions.”You’re not really putting yourself against the other fishermen,” he said. “It’s more about competing with the fish and trying to get them to bite.”Williams and Apfelbeck have won the Gander Mountain Colorado Classic Team Ice Fishing Tournament at South Park’s 11-mile reservoir each of the last two years. The local fishing duo proudly presides over the rotating trophy, which they defended last month.”It’s a traveling trophy like the Stanley Cup,” Williams said. “We can put it in any sporting goods store in the state.”
Williams has also pocketed close to 1,800 bucks on the winter season.”The money is really good,” he conceded. “But it’s more about the status than the money. Winning (the Gander Mountain Classic) twice is hot for us.”Williams lives with his wife Laurie and daughter Lacie. Lacie, who swims for Summit High School and lifeguards at the Silverthorne Rec Center, is an avid fly fisherman like her father.Williams said he’s considering writing a book or teaching a class about the sport he’s grown to love. “A lot of people have all the gear but they don’t really know what they’re doing,” he said. “Perry and I have kicked around the idea of doing some seminars geared toward safety and technique. I think that’s what’s most important.”
How do you mentally prepare for an ice-fishing tournament?”Trying to sleep is the key. We get wound up, man. I guess it’s like a skier going to a ski race. We get really excited … At the last tournament, they wouldn’t let us drill in until 7 a.m. We were just sitting there with our auger all warmed up, waiting for them to sound an alarm so we could start drilling.”What’s one of your favorite aspects of ice fishing?”I like trying to figure out what (the fish) are eating. Really, when you hook ’em and they start ripping line on you, that’s the most exciting part because you get all wound up. Sometimes, they’ll take your line and just run for 30 or 40 yards.
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