Fishing derby draws record crowd - nearly 1,000 entrants registered for the fishing contest!

After many hours, days, weeks, and yes, even months of work, the only detail the Sleepy Eye Sportsmen’s Club can’t control for their annual Fishing Derby is the weather. Thankfully the weather cooperated for the club’s 37th annual event on Sleepy Eye Lake, Sunday, Feb. 3.

“We got lucky with the weather,” said club member Lynn Krenz, as he marveled at the size of the crowd. He said nearly 1,000 people registered to fish (well, it was 990) a record for the event.

“We figure there are around 2,500 people on the lake today,” Krenz said, “and we’ve never had this many fish houses here, they’re lined up all over the lake.” He said people started setting up their houses Friday night and all day Saturday, and kept arriving Sunday morning.

Krenz also noted the frigid temperatures during the week were good for the ice, which measured 19 to 21 inches on Sunday.

The Fishing Derby is the Sportsmen’s Club’s major fundraiser, which allows them to support loca and area lakes and parks, conservation efforts and other organizations. Long a supporter of the fishing pontoon on Sleepy Eye Lake, this past year the club took on the project, now called Sleepy Eye Sportsmen’s Boating and Bobbers.

The large crowd on Sunday helped the club achieve another record. The event includes three raffles, all of which were entirely sold out by 1:30 p.m. “We’ve sold out two of them before, but never all three,” said Krenz.

A big crowd, good raffle sales, a hopping hamburger stand, it all adds up to a successful event so the club can continue their generous community support and involvement.

Krenz said 35 to 40 Sportsmen’s Club members were at the lake Sunday, helping to make the event run smoothly. He said there was a lot of snow on the lake earlier in the weekend and thanked Mike Suess who came out and helped make roads, and Merv Speckman who cleared snow from the landing areas.

The largest fish in the pan fish category were all crappies, caught by: Talon Rehnelt - 1 pound, 1 ounce; Miley Zinniel - 13 ounces; Katelyn Strand - 11 ounces; Ashley Schafer - 10 ounces.

The largest fish in the game fish category were all northerns, caught by: Terry Bessmer - 7 pounds, 7 ounces; Jamie Stimpert - 6 pounds, 14 ounces; Bristol Nachreiner - 6 pounds, 10 ounces; Carl Hoffman - 4 pounds, 3 ounces.

The winner of the Grand Prize Raffle Ice Castle Fish House was Steve Anderson of Winthrop.