Adults, youth catch ‘em at New Ulm Area Sport Fishermen 32nd Annual Ice Fishing Contest
NEW ULM — Despite the steady snow fall, over 1,000 people visited Clear Lake for the New Ulm Area Sport Fishermen 32nd Annual Ice Fishing Contest Sunday.
The exact number of ice houses on Clear Lake was unknown, but it was estimated at approximately 150 at the start of the tournament. More arrived throughout the day. Overall, it was a good day for fishing.
“They started catching fish right from the start, from walleyes, bass and crappies,” New Ulm Area Sport Fishermen President Jason Kuester said.
The recent cold ensured the ice was safe to drive on. Kuester estimated it was 20 inches thick. Those fishing did have to contend with the snow, but this was not the first time the ice fishing contest had to do it. In fact, most agreed the weather was nearly perfect for fishing.
At the start of the tournament the temperature was 14 degrees and it continued to climb throughout the day. There was no strong wind, which allowed a few ice fishermen to venture out of their shacks.
Part of the fun of the Sport Fishermen tournament is the focus on youth. Each child who attends the tournament receives free prizes, including an ice fishing pole and various tackle. Each time a kid brings a fish in to be weighed, they receive a new spinner lure. Around 250 kids’ prizes were available.
Many of the adults on Clear Lake were content to leave the fishing to the youth. A lot of the fish weighed in were caught by young kids.
“The idea is to make sure the next generation is hooked on fishing,” Kuester said. Kuester wished to thank all area sponsors and volunteers. The 160 members of New Ulm Area Sport Fishermen help with many youth fishing events, push for water quality and have adopted a few area lakes. “It’s all about giving back.”
Prizes included a new 14-foot Ice Castle Fish House. Grand prizes were an Aqua-Vu underwater camera, Vexilar FLX-28 Ultrapack ice depth finder, Dixon Lake Resort fishing trip for four and a Canadian fishing trip to Lake Diefenbaker for two.
The tournament also included a prize for biggest fish and biggest pan fish. Early in the contest a 1.92 lbs bass was caught and remained the top fish to be caught for most of the contest. A .47 lbs crappie was the top pan fish as of 1 p.m.
Rumors circulated of someone catching a 23-inch walleye before the contest started, but the fish was released before a weigh-in, in keeping with the rules of the tournament. Whether this was simply a fish tale or not, it kept everyone on Clear Lake alert for the rest of the tournament.