“Prizes, people, food, all of it”

Attendees enjoy 37th annual Ice Fishing Contest, without the ice fishing

Don Hanks and Garrett Freeman make conversation with Mariana Salazar, Oziel Lozano, and Xavier Salazar (L-R) as they wait for their food. The stand had burgers, brats, and hot dogs for all the hungry attendees.

NEW ULM — At the New Ulm Area Sport Fisherman’s 37th annual ice fishing contest, no one was able to ice fish.

This is the second event in two weekends where an ice fishing contest could not commence, after Sleepy Eye’s 42nd annual fishing derby. Last weekend the ice was strong enough on Sleepy Eye Lake for people to go out even if there wasn’t a competition. Clear Lake was not as lucky, as continuous temperatures above freezing made the ice too thin.

NUASF President Chad Wilson said they received several calls regarding the availability of ice fishing. Even though they weren’t able to, he reported positive numbers early on in the day.

“People are asking us about it,” Wilson said. “We told them ‘The ice ain’t the best and we’ll have to put it on shore.’ So far we had a good turnout for just being started here at 11 a.m.”

Wilson said he has been a member of NUASF for 14 years, and in all his time there has never been a lack of ice fishing at the event. The move to land brought a bonfire, for folks to stay warm next to and conversate around. Wilson said there has never been a bonfire at the event before, since the majority of people were on the ice. It proved to be popular with attendees.

Attendees stand and sit around the bonfire at New Ulm Area Sport Fishermen’s 37th annual Ice Fishing Contest Sunday. The bonfire was a new addition this year, as this was the first year the event was solely on land without ice fishing.

Music was also played at times during the event, which Wilson said was a big hit with the kids.

Wilson said preparation for this event started back in November, when they first reached out to potential sponsors and nailed down ideas for prizes. With the event moved onto land, he said around two dozen volunteers came to help and started setting up around nine for their 11 a.m. start. Wilson hopes the event gave folks a chance to have fun and get outside.

“They’re just coming out and enjoying the weather,” he said. “Being out and about. Get the kids out [so they’re] not sitting around in the house.”

Dylan Schapekahm said he’s gone to the Clear Lake event for 16 years. He said it was a bummer there wasn’t any ice fishing, as he enjoys being out on the ice. Schapekahm said when he’s had the opportunity to ice fish this year, he hasn’t had any luck.

Even without being on the ice, there’s plenty that draws him to the event besides catching Crappies.

“To support the group so we have future years,” Schapekahm said. “Prizes, people, food, all of it. It gets you out of the house and socializing with people.”


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