Kevin Bonham, Forum Communications Co., Published January 30 2011
Anglers pack Devils Lake for tourney
“It’d be nice to win some new equipment,” the Fordville woman said while chopping some ice that formed in the fishing hole she had chosen for the contest. “Even if we don’t, we’re having a lot of fun.”
Berginski, Roger and Jill Blasky of Fordville, and Mark Ringstad, Bagley, Minn., have been fishing the tournament together for 12 years.
“I think we’re due,” Jill said. Her husband, Roger, operates Bry’s Guide Service in the Devils Lake area.
None of them caught any prize-winning fish in Saturday’s tournament. But they did have a chance of winning any of the 125 raffle prizes that ranged from electronic equipment to cars and trucks, including a 2011 Ford Super Crew Cab and a 2011 Dodge Avenger.
The fire department, which awarded about $190,000 in prizes this year, sells 12,000 tickets at $25 each for the annual fundraiser, and tickets are gone within weeks after going on sale in October.
Gretchen Lehmann, Devils Lake, took the top prize, winning a 2011 Toyota Tundra Double Cab pickup for catching the third-largest walleye. It weighed a whopping 0.54 pounds.
Andy Lange of Webster caught the biggest fish, a walleye that weighed in at 7.06 pounds. But no other walleyes weighed more than 0.58 pounds.
Allen Desrosier, Roseau, Minn., hooked the largest northern, at 3.5 pounds.
Arden Blair, Fargo, caught the biggest perch, which weighed 1.10 pounds.
The largest fish in each category was worth $1,000.
Fire department volunteers plowed an ice sheet one-quarter mile long by 300 yards wide along Six-Mile Bay and then drilled 4,500 holes for this year’s tournament.
Participation was down a bit, from the normal crowd of about 4,000 anglers. The official count was 3,683.
The fire department usually makes about $100,000 on the entire event, which takes virtually all year to put together. This year, the net might be a bit lower, mainly because of the extra cost of plowing and making sure the ice was ready, according to Jim Moe, a member of the tournament committee.
“I think it went really well, especially with the conditions we had,” he said. “We had some slippery roads that might have kept some people away.”
That didn’t keep Gary Koble away. He drove about eight hours Friday from Vermillion, S.D., to get to the tournament.
He traveled the farthest of the six brothers and sisters and their families who have converged on Devils Lake for an ice-fishing family reunion annually for the past 15 years. They come from North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota.
“Twenty-five people stayed at our house,” said Sara Plemel, a sister who lives in rural Devils Lake. “It’s been a great tradition.”
The common theme at this tournament is friends and family gathering to have a good time.
“We’ve been doing this for many, many years out here,” said Jeff Kanner, Devils Lake. He and his friends and relatives passed some time Saturday afternoon by playing a game they call “spin to win.”
It’s played by having one person lay down on an overturned 5-gallon bucket and spinning him or her – like a merry-go-round – on the ice as fast as possible, without falling off.
“Where else can you be with 4,000 people trying to catch a fish?” said Scott’s brother, Boyd, who lives in Burlington.
Kevin Bonham is a writer for the Grand Forks Herald