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SE Sportsman’s Club plans to host Ice Fishing Derby

Journal staff photo The Sleepy Eye Sportsman’s Club continues to plan for the 39th Annual Fishing Derby set for noon to 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 7, on Sleepy Eye Lake. The event draws more than 1,000 participants and includes many raffle drawings.

SLEEPY EYE — Despite a Governor’s Executive Order that does not allow any tournaments through Dec. 18, the Sleepy Eye Sportsman’s Club continues planning to host the 39th Annual Fishing Derby on Sunday, Feb. 7.

“As far as we know, we’re going to have it. We’re planning on having it until we’re told otherwise. We’ll know more next week,” said Sleepy Eye Sportman’s Club President Lynn Krenz.

“Stay tuned. Things can change,” said Krenz. “If not, we’ll still have our drawings.”

The Sportsman’s Club needs a state permit to host the fishing derby and would have to comply with any Governor’s Executive Orders (EO) that may be in effect on Feb. 7.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Southern Regional Fisheries Manager Jack Lauer called ice fishing tournament permits “a moving target throughout the pandemic.”

Lauer shared in an email Wednesday what the DNR fishing tournament consultant shared with current winter tournament applicants based on EO conditions:

“Continued apologies for the delay in processing permits. We have not been issuing permits for ice fishing contests and unfortunately, we do not know what the COVID-19 landscape will look like at the time of your event. Right now, there is an EO that does not allow any tournaments through Dec. 18. There is a reasonable chance it could be extended, but we will know for a few weeks.”

In addition, the consultant said if the EO is not extended and restrictions are relaxed, the DNR does not anticipate issuing permits for any events over 250 participants.

“How applicants want to proceed is up to them. They can hope for the best case scenario and plan on limiting their tournament to no more than 250, or they can decide to cancel,” read the email. “If they do cancel, now or just before the event, the DNR will refund their permit fee. Again, we apologize for the delay. We just do not know what restrictions will be in place when these tournaments start up.”

Lauer said DNR ice fishing tournament permits are required for events with more than 150 participants.

Krenz said he was still hopeful even with a 250-person limit.

“We probably could do it with a 250 limit. We may have to spread out. We’ll try to work with them,” said Krenz.

He added that many fishing enthusiasts often ice fish the lake the day before the tournament.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.

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