Unlike last year when warm winter temperatures created thin ice problems for the annual Sleepy Eye Sportsman's Club Ice Fishing Derby, this past Sunday temperatures were above zero and drew hundreds of people to Sleepy Eye Lake.
The Super Bowl Sunday event registered almost 800 fisherman. Every registered person was entered into a drawing for door prizes that included a Power Ice auger or a Buddy Heater. Each child who entered the contest received a back pack.
"We probably had about 1300 people on the lake," said Lynn Krenz, director of the fishing derby. "This is the biggest derby we've had." Krenz noted the last largest derby where 700 people registered was in 2009. Krenz attributes the ice conditions and the good weather that drew such a large crowd.
Club members were on hand to drill holes and offered a shuttle service to bring people on and off the lake.
Bruce Haala from Sleepy Eye won the grand prize of a 2012 500 cc Can-Am ATV Outlander with a trailer.
Cash and trophy prizes were given out for the four largest fish in the game and pan fish categories.
For game fish, Brian Engholm won first place with a four pound eight ounce northern. Second place went to Nate Zins with a four pound one ounce bass. Shea Evers placed third with his three pound five ounce northern and Natalie Sellner was fourth with a 3.25 pound northern.
In the pan fish category, Dave Armstrong placed first with a .54 ounce crappie. Kode Ande took second with his .48 ounce sunfish. Third place went to Jerrod Hall with a .43 ounce crappie and Carter Fromm placed fourth with a .38 ounce sunfish.
"It was a good tournament all around," Krenz added. "Without the area businesses and the volunteers it wouldn't be the success that it is."