SLEEPY EYE - One of southern Minnesota's biggest fishing contests starts at noon, Sunday, Feb. 3 on Sleepy Eye Lake.
Weather should be very favorable with the current cold snap producing ice. The Sunday daytime high temperature is forecast to reach 32 degrees.
New Ulm fisherman Mike Hasse, also a member of the Sleepy Eye Sportmen's Club, expects a large turnout Sunday with favorable weather and good recent fishing results on the lake. All types of fish houses are welcome for the derby.
"Guys have been telling me they've been catching walleyes, northerns, catfish and smaller fish there," Hasse said. "The lake is coming along pretty good with more than a foot of ice."
Derby fishing will take place in the southeast corner of the lake. Contestants are asked to park near the lake shore and set up fish houses by the day before the derby to reduce congestion.
Sportsmen's Club members will drill holes for contestants, measure and weigh fish and encourage catch and release. They will also shuttle people on and off the lake.
If you go:
What: Sleepy Eye Sportsmen's Club 31st Annual Fishing Derby
When: Noon to 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 3
Where: Sleepy Eye Lake
Entry fee: $5 per person
Prizes will be awarded for the four largest fish in two categories plus trophies. Kids will be given a door prize when they register, until supplies are gone.
The general raffle with hundreds of prizes takes place all afternoon. The large raffle begins at 2:30 p.m. The 31st Derby Anniversary Raffle with ATV, trailer and seven cash prizes, ranging from $100 to $250 in cash, begins at 3:15 p.m.
Raffle tickets are available before and during the contest. Winners need not be present to win. Prizes include a 500 cc Can-Am ATV and trailer valued at $8,000; a fish locator, power ice auger, wildlife prints, cash and gift certificates.
Bait including crappie minnows and wax-worms will be available. Food and refreshments will be also be available.
The derby, aided by many business sponsors, is the Sportsmen's Club's largest fund-raiser. Proceeds go towards area projects and organizations including the Let's Go Fishing pontoon boat in Sleepy Eye Lake, gun training and the Sleepy Eye Trap Range.
(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org).