Hanska FD ice fishing tourney draws lots of anglers, few fish

But fishing with friends, assisting Fire Dept. make it worthwhile

Staff photo by Clay Schuldt The Ice Fishing tournament is a chance for friends to get together and show support for Hanska Fire Department. This group has attended each Hanska Lake Ice fishing contest for the last five years. Bottom row: Julia Beckus (left) and Megan Schnider. (right) Top Row: (L to R) Chris Isaacson, Amy Isaacson, Kelli Johnson, Lana Raatz and Chris Raatz.

HANSKA — Nearly 250 people braved the cold to support the Hanska Fire Department Saturday.

The fifth annual Haska Fire Department Fishing Tournament was held on Lake Hanska. The tournament began at 11 a.m. and with the first 90 minutes 233 ice anglers registered for the contest.

This year the contest was moved Geiger’s Landing on orders from the DNR, but the ice was better in this location so there were no complaints.

The weather for this year’s tournament was unique. For the last several years the contest was fortunate enough to have thick enough ice for the contest, but this is the first year the contest featured snow.

A light snowfall began in the early morning, put down a fresh blanket of powder on Hanska Lake. A few flakes continued to fall for the first half of the contest. The snow had little effect on the tournament, but cloud cover did block out the sun and keep temperatures relatively low.

Temperatures remained in the single digits throughout the day. This was colder than last year’s contest, but relatively warm compared to the last few days. While there was no sun, there was also no strong wind.

The upside of the recent cold snap is the ice was thick enough for vehicles. Fisherman were reporting ice 16 to 19 inches deep. The only problem is the fish were not biting.

By 1 p.m. only two pan fish were recorded on the board. A few reported catching walleye, but none that made the 13 inch minimum requirement for the competition.

Despite the lack of fish, everyone was content to socialize with their friends and family on the ice. The main goal of the contest was to raise money for the Hanska Fire Department.

The tournament serves as a fundraiser for the Fire Fighter Association. Proceeds from entry fees and raffle tickets sold go to purchase equipment for the Hanska Fire Department.

It’s common for firefighters from other communties to attend the Lake Hanska contest. Ryan Mosser and Harley Branstad came representing the La Salle Fire Department. Neither were able to land any fish within the first half of the contest, but Mosser said it was more about supporting Hanska.

Dick Smith, a firefighter with Hanska for 41 years, said there also firefighters from St. James and Sleepy Eye on the lake.

“We all support each other because all Fire Departments around here are volunteer,” Smith said.

The Hanska Lake Ice Fishing Tournament is first in a series of ice fishing tournaments coming this way.

The Sleepy Eye Sportsman’s Club will hold its Annual Fishing Derby on Lake Sleepy Eye  on Sunday, Feb 3 from noon to 3 p.m.

The New Ulm Area Sport Fisherman will hold its annual ice fishing contest from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10 at Clear Lake.