Mother Nature wins this year


Staff Writer

For the first time in memory, local sportsmen’s groups have had to call off their annual fishing contests. It was deemed the ice on both Beaver and St. Olaf Lakes is not consistent enough to host the fishing derbies.

“You can have 12 or 14 inches in one place,” said a local angler. “You go 10 or 20 feet away and only have six to eight inches. It’s just one of those years.”

Ellendale-Geneva Sportsmen’s Club representative Cindi Bartness decided to cancel their contest which was slated to start at noon Sunday. The ice golf and polar plunges are going on as planned.

“The access to the lake isn’t in very good shape,” said Bartness. “We still want people to come out and either participate or watch the polar plunge. It will be situated so folks can remain on shore to watch and cheer on the plungers.”

The warm nights and warmer-than-average days have resulted in less-than-perfect ice conditions on many Minnesota lakes. Various county sheriff water rescue units have kept busy pulling people and/or vehicles out of the water.

In Minnesota, the Department of Natural Resources issues permits for fishing contests. If they say the ice isn’t safe or adequate, you don’t have a contest. Likewise, sheriffs in their respective counties can also put the kibosh on a fishing contest by denying access to the lake. This year Waseca County Sheriff Brad Milbrath has put up signs on Waseca’s Clear Lake warning anglers of thin ice.

The New Richland Area Sportsmen followed the lead of their Ellendale-Geneva counterparts and also decided not to have their fishing contest.

“This is the first time in a long time where we have not been able to have our contest,” said Lee Mendenhall of the New Richland Sportsmen. “Several years ago, we had a big rain and we had the event at the American Legion. There was so much water on the ice, we couldn’t have the contest. Basically, we just drew the names for the merchandise prizes.”

As of this writing, it is unknown as to what the clubs will do about the tickets for the events which have been sold.

The public is still invited to come out to Beaver Lake at 2 p.m. on Sunday to watch the Polar Plunge sponsored by the Ellendale-Geneva Sportsmen. Proceeds will go towards cancer research. 

The New Richland Sportsmen will be having a fish fry on Friday, February 24 at the New Richland City Hall.