By Jennifer Gallus
HOWARD LAKE, MN Avid fishermen are gearing up for the 63rd annual Fishing Derby on Howard Lake Saturday, Feb. 14 from 1 to 3 p.m.
Fishermen have lots of chances to win some extra cash and prizes. In addition to cash awards for the biggest northern, walleye, bass, and panfish, other awards for the oldest person on the ice, auger drilling competitions, a “50 fish board,” are given out, as well as the big raffle.
If there’s a tie for one of the largest fish, “the first one weighed wins,” said Howard Lake Sportsmen’s Club President Denny Decker.
Fishermen may fish anywhere on the lake between the hours of 1 and 3 p.m. The fish must be weighed-in live, and can be released if desired.
The ice auger competition takes place at 3 p.m. near the weigh-in area. Two or three ice houses are placed a short distance off of the Memorial Park lake access, and tables are out front along with a circle of vehicles that indicate the weigh-in location.
The four competitive categories are power gas auger, power electric auger, hand auger, and hand chisel.
The “50 fish board” consists of a large board where the first 50 people to catch any size fish can write their name on a spot on the board. Once the board is filled with names, one spot is revealed whose corresponding name wins $50, and nine more spots will designate $10 winners, according to Decker.
Besides the excitement of competitive fishing, the other big highlight of the event is the fish house giveaway, which is the grand prize that is raffled at a drawing that takes place just after the ice auger competition.
“Our main fundraiser (for the sportsmen’s club) is the fish house,” Decker said.
Raffle tickets are $2 each, and can be purchased at Joe’s Sport Shop in Howard Lake, at The Country Store, or contact a member of the sportsmen’s club.
Along with the grand prize of the 6.5’ by 12’ King Crow fish house on wheels, first prize is a FL8 Vexilar depth finder, second and third prizes are framed prints, and several more prizes are raffled, as well.
Those who cannot attend the raffle, can check if they won a prize(s) at Joe’s Sport Shop following the event. A large poster with all the winners’ names is hung just inside the business.
“The sportsmen’s club really appreciates all that Joe’s Sport Shop does for us,” Decker said. “He does a great job. If it weren’t for Joe’s, we’d have a hard time selling as many raffle tickets as we do.”
Another big supporter of the event and festivities for the day is The Country Store.
“They (The Country Store) do a lot for us too,” Decker said. “All you need is a $2 raffle ticket, and you can get free food there.”
This year, The Country Store is mixing things up by having Minnesota cultivated wild rice recipe tasting. Members of the public are encouraged to purchase wild rice at The Country Store, and make a favorite recipe to share that day.
Those who rather not bring in a wild rice dish are still welcome to taste the dishes that will be offered.
The taste testing is scheduled from 11 a.m. to noon, and will continue until the supply is gone. This is open to the public, and raffle tickets will be on hand for purchase for those who wish to participate. Children do not need a raffle ticket to participate.
In addition to the wild rice tasting, The Country Store is hosting a presentation by the University of Minnesota Raptor Center from 10 to 11 a.m.
A variety of raptors will be on-site, and a university expert will speak about the birds of prey. All ages are encouraged to attend the presentation at The Country Store.
As if that weren’t enough, door prize drawings will also happen at The Country store at 11:30 a.m. Only those present at that time are eligible to win.
As the fishing derby draws to a close, Decker will remind participants that the Howard Lake Legion Kitchen is open, and he encourages them to stop and have a bite to eat before heading home.
Last year’s fishing derby winners
Some of the 2008 Howard Lake Fishing Derby winners were as follows:
• Don Marshall of Buffalo won the fish house
• Pete Drusch of Howard Lake won the biggest fish and biggest northern pike with a 10.4-pound northern
• Bruce Elverud of Delano won biggest walleye with a 6-ounce walleye
• Dale Barth of Howard Lake won the sunfish category with a 6-ounce sunny
• Jerod Merges of Howard Lake won biggest bass with a 4.6-pound bass
• Bobby Gruenhagen of Waconia won the ice chiseling contest
• Dan Zachmann of Howard Lake won the hand auger contest
• Ron Boelke of Howard Lake won the electric auger contest
• Dan Zachmann of Howard Lake won the gas auger contest