On Super Bowl Sunday the game won’t be the only exciting thing to do.
The Sleepy Eye Sportsman's Club will host their 31st annual fishing derby on Sunday, Feb. 3 from noon to 3 p.m. on Sleepy Eye Lake.
Unlike last year when warm winter temps created thin ice problems, the derby will be held in the same location as previous years on the southeast corner of the lake by the swimming beach. Vehicles are allowed to drive on the ice this year and all types of fish houses will be welcome for the event.
“Ice conditions seem very good, probably better than we’ve seen in other years,” said Lynn Krenz, director of the fishing derby. "People can drive on the lake to drop off a house. We ask that people park along the shore edge to keep the congestion down.”
Registration is $5 and every registered person is entered into door prize drawings for a Power Ice auger or a Buddy Heater. Every child who enters a fish will receive a door prize of a backpack until they are gone.
Cash and trophy prizes will be given for the four largest fish in the game fish and pan fish categories.
Game fish include northerns, bass, catfish and walleyes. Pan fish include sunfish, perch, crappie and bluegills.
Several people already have their fish houses on the lake and have been practicing for the big day. On Wednesday, Jan. 16, 11-year-old Kyle Christensen pulled out an eight-pound 25 inch walley.
“It took my bobber down so I set the hook,” Kyle said of the catch. “I was reeling it in and when it got to the top, the head was too big to fit through the hole.”
With help from his grandpa, who netted it and brought it out of the hole, Kyle took the hook out, posed for a picture and released it.
“That is the biggest fish I've ever caught!” Kyle added.
Like Kyle, the Sportsman’s Club advocates catch and release, although Krenz added it is not mandatory. For those who would like to follow this practice, holes will be drilled by the registration booth so after fish are measured and weighed they can be released.
In addition, the club will be on hand to drill holes for fishermen and also will offer a shuttle service to bring people on and off the lake, a service the club recommends to keep congestion of vehicles on the lake down.
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“We are expecting a big crowd since ice conditions are good,” said Joe Windschitl, club treasurer. “We are asking people to set up houses before the derby or even the day before to avoid congestion.”
There are many raffles occurring throughout the day, including the biggest raffle of an $8,000 ATV four wheeler and trailer along with many other large cash prizes. Winner need not be present to win. Other prizes being raffled include a Vexilar Fish Locator, Power ice auger, Pheasants Forever print and many more large prizes. Tickets can be purchased at the ticket booth the day of the event or at local businesses before the event.
The derby is the Sportsman’s Club’s largest fundraiser of the year. Each year the club pays for electricity for the aeration on Sleepy Eye. Their main project is the Let’s Go Fishing chapter, which the club has donated over $15,000 to since its inception. Last year over 900 trips on the pontoon were taken on Sleepy Eye Lake. In addition, the club helps finance the gun training program each year, has bought guns that the youth train with and finance a field trip planning day that takes place at the trap range that the club runs.
The Sportsman’s Club promotes a safe and fun family day for the derby. Food and refreshments will be available at the food stand.