By Starrla Cray
HOWARD LAKE, MN Winter wouldn’t be the same without the Howard Lake Sportsman’s Club Fishing Derby, a tradition that will be on its 64th year Saturday, Feb. 13 from 1 to 3 p.m. on Howard Lake.
“We have it no matter what the temperature is, too,” sportsman’s club secretary Ken Durdahl said.
Fishing enthusiasts, along with their family and friends, are encouraged to stop by for a chance to do some ice fishing, win some great prizes, and get to know people in the community.
“They get out there and have a lot of fun,” Durdahl said.
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, and a “50 fish board,” are given out, as well as the big raffle.
The grand prize is a 6.5-by-12-foot Ice Castle V-front fishhouse on wheels. First prize is a FL8 Vexilar Depth Finder. Second and third prizes are framed prints.
Raffle tickets are $2, and all proceeds benefit the Howard Lake Sportsman’s Club. Tickets are available at Joe’s Sport Shop, The Country Store, and on Howard Lake the day of the event.
Those who cannot attend the raffle can check if they won a prize at Joe’s Sport Shop following the event.
“The profits go towards cleaning up area lakes and conservation projects all around,” Durdahl said.
Contests and prizes
Competition is alive and well during the fishing derby, with an ice auger contest at 3 p.m. near the fish 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” is another popular attraction. The first 50 people to catch any size fish can write their names on the board. Once it’s filled with names, one spot is uncovered and the corresponding name wins $50. Nine more spots reveal $10 winners.
Country Store activities
Before the derby, there will be activities at The Country Store in Howard Lake. From 10 to 11 a.m., the store will host a presentation from the University of Minnesota Raptor Center. The Country Store estimated that at least 130 people were present for last year’s demonstration.
Another event that’s back by popular demand this year is The Country Store’s 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’d 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. Adults need a raffle ticket to participate, and children are free.
Door prize drawings will take place at The Country Store at 11:30 a.m. Only those present at that time are eligible to win.
After the derby, many participants often stop for food at the Howard Lake Legion before heading home, Durdahl said.
Last year’s winners
Some of last year’s fishing derby winners included:
• Rich Winter of Lester Prairie - fishhouse
• Dan Zachmann of Howard Lake first place in hand auger contest and power auger contest
• Pete Drusch of Howard Lake second place in hand auger contest
• Bob Gruenhagen of Waconia first place in chisel contest
• Tom Bobrowske of Howard Lake second place in chisel contest
• Dave Oestreich of Howard Lake first place in electric auger contest and second place in power auger contest
• Berwyn Schmidt of Howard Lake caught a 5-pound bass.
• Jim Hermaning caught a 14-ounce crappie.
• LeeAnn Adickes caught a 12-ounce sunfish.
• Craig Kjillahl caught a northern weighing 13-pounds and 3-ounces.