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HOL hosting first ever ice fishing tournament

The first season of the Heart O'Lakes fishing league was a success and now the league is making moves to continue its success by hosting the first ever Ice Fishing Contest on Big Pine Lake on Feb. 24.

Tournament organizer Mitch Anderson said the winter tournament is one way of fundraising for the league. He said they were able to get some corporate sponsorships which helped the league last year, but said this was a good way to kill the winter blues and get kids excited about fishing.

"We hope to take one day to raise some money to fund the league, instead of just one team," Anderson said. "(Year one) was really successful."

Anderson said the goal of the league was to get kids, who weren't in the traditional activities involved and it turned into the HOL fishing league. The original goal was to start it in the summer of 2019, instead they started a summer early and worked as the season went along.

Anderson said they had 14 teams signed up and split up into two divisions with close to 300 kids participating.

Anderson said one of the neat things about the league was the size of the school did not determine how many kids participated. He said some of the bigger schools had fewer kids than some of the smaller schools in the conference.

"Overall, it's a good starting point where we were last year," Anderson said. "This year, we opened it up for sixth grade and I think, we are going to see numbers boost, similar in fashion to the trap shooting. I can see the fishing going the same way."

Anderson said the first ever ice fishing contest has received a lot of interest and said many people are looking to help out and support the event. The tournament begins at noon and concludes at 3 p.m. and it's a catch, record and release tournament. They will be awarding prizes for the biggest walleye, biggest northern, biggest crappie and biggest sunfish.

Anderson said everyone has their own favorite species to fish and since the league is a multi-species league, it levels the playing field. Anderson said it was important for the tournament to be a catch and release tournament. Participants will be given a tournament specific ruler used to measure and photo the fish. They will be photographing the fish and submitting the photos for the event.

The entry fee for the tournament is $10 and gets you into the raffle drawing for the 2018 Honda Rancher 4x4, the Eskimo P1 Rocket Ice Auger, Macrum M1 Flasher and the Eskimo 949i Pop-up Shelter.

Anderson said the tournament will hold some side drawings as well for the event. The drawing will take place after the tournament near Grandview Heights Access on Big Pine Lake. Anderson said to check out the HOL Fishing League on Facebook for more information and updates.

Jason Groth

 Groth is a Minnesota Newspaper Association award-winning Sports Editor of the Perham Focus and the Wadena Pioneer Journal. Groth worked in Grand Rapids as the Sports Director at KOZY/KMFY radio for two years and prior to that he was the Sports Editor/Writer for the Grand Rapids Herald-Review for seven years. 

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