THE RICHLAND WILDLIFE CLUB has offered a winter pastime for 46 years with its annual ice fishing derby at Lake Elsie. Anglers from across the region tried to catch the wily walleye or persnickety perch.
Sunny skies and temperate weather provided ideal conditions for anglers in the annual Lake Elsie ice fishing derby held Saturday, Feb. 1 in rural Hankinson
The term temperate is North Dakotan, meaning Saturday was partly sunny with highs in the upper 30s.
Up to 400 people have attended the Richland Wildlife Club’s annual derby, although the average attendance is closer to this year’s figure of 270 people, said Wildlife Club president Terry Puetz.
This winter has been a snowy one, which doesn’t lend itself to the formation of good ice that can handle hundreds of people, their equipment and vehicles. To compensate, club members pumped water on the ice ahead of the last snow storm to make it thicker, Puetz said. Just before Saturday’s fishing derby, club members drilled a number of holes and discovered there was more than 18 inches of ice on Lake Elsie. Most club members parked off-ice so there wouldn’t be too much water creeping up through the many holes as everyone gathered at the end around the registration and weigh-in trailers.
“Our goal was to keep the location where people can catch fish, and still be safe,” Puetz said.
The Wildlife Club did not keep track of the total number of fish caught, but there were almost enough to fill the top three place winners.
The club announced door prizes throughout the event as names were called over the loud speaker in a continuous flow. Puetz said sponsors were especially generous this year, allowing the club to give away everything from Vexlar fish finders, K-Drill ice auger, custom fishing rod valued at $140 and cash prizes.
Grand prize winners were Landon Bladow, who won $500, Kevin Schultz won $200 and Chelsea Jensen $100.
Cash prizes were awarded to the first three place winners in four divisions — walleye, northern, perch and panfish. If there weren’t enough legal fish caught in a category, places were awarded by drawing names.
Puetz chuckled as numerous social media posts from fishermen on Lake Elsie Sunday showed a number of fish that likely would have won prize money for the anglers, if they had been caught the day before.
“They caught all kinds of fish then that they didn’t catch Saturday,” he said, laughing.
Ice fishing derby winners were:
• Walleye division - Ryan Kath, $75, first place; Trevor Norgren, $50, second place; DL Crandall, $25, was drawn for third place
• Northern division - Brock Kratcha, $75, first place; Dakota Berg, $50, drawn for second place; Art Brandenburger, $25, drawn for third place
• Perch division - Aaron Meyer, $75, first place; Tanner Enwiller, $50, second place; Dawson Warren, $25, drawn for third place
• Panfish division - Cooper Hanson, $75, first place; Thomas Leintz, $50, second place; Ruston Kath, $25, third place
Cooper Hanson, $75, first place; Thomas Leintz, $50, second place; Ruston Kath, $25, third place