MANKATO — Between ice fishing, snowmobiling and events like ice racing and pond hockey, there always seem to be a crowd on Lake Washington during the winter months.
But look for it to be a lot busier, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010, when the Big Bobber ice fishing contest will be held on the lake right outside Westwood Marina Bar and Grill’s doorstep and the Squirrel’s Nest public access.
Cheryl Regan, director of special events in the MSU athletic department, said this is the fourth year the contest has been organized and scheduled but only the third time the event, which raises scholarship money for the Minnesota State Athletics Scholarship Fund, has actually been held.
“The first year we organized it, we had to cancel because it was too warm,” she said.
Two years ago, the weather cooperated and participants basked in comfortable 30 degree temperatures.
Last year, the weather pendulum swung the other way with decidedly more wintry conditions that made hot chocolate a beverage of choice for the hardy participants.
This year, participants can register at 10 a.m., if they haven’t already done so, and also claim their pre-drilled fishing spots. Registration is limited to 3,000 participants.
The fishing contest will begin at noon and conclude at 3 p.m. as anglers compete for a $2,500 cash prize for the biggest catch.
There will be 100 prizes awarded, determined by fish weight and time entered.
In an interesting twist, the other two cash prizes — $500 and $1,000 aren’t reserved for second- and third-largest fish caught by anglers.
The $500 prize will go to the 50th largest fish and the $1000 prize will be awarded to the fish that finishes dead last at 100th place.
In the event 100 fish aren’t caught, we put everybody’s ticket stub in and start pulling out names,” Regan said. Two years ago, only 97 fish made it to the board.
“We had to draw for the last three prizes including the $1,000 prize — the winner was pretty excited. It paid to hang around.”
In addition to the fishing, various food vendors and exhibitors will be on-site.
An added attraction this year, said Regan, is Schell’s Brewery’s involvement in the event in conjunction with the New Ulm-based business’s 150th anniversary.
The Brewery is hosting an ice-fishing contest of sorts with beanbags at local eateries and bars through Friday, Feb. 5, to select qualifiers for a final, on-the-ice casting competition to be held on the day of the fishing contest for a trip to Mexico.
(Details and a schedule of that event can be found at the Web site listed below.)
But Schell’s involvement with the contest on the day of the fishing contest is sure to be a big hit with ice angling competitors, as well.
“From 10 a.m. until noon, Schell’s will be hosting a free beer-tasting,” Regan said.
Beer? And ice fishing?
Say, now that’s a novel idea.
Tickets to the Big Bobber Ice Fishing Contest are $35 and can be purchased on-site the day of the event or at The Bobber Shop, Westwood Marina Bar and Grill, Buster’s, the MSU Athletic Department Office, or online by clicking on Big Bobber at www.msumavericks.com.
John Cross is a Free Press staff writer. Contact him at 344-6376 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.