By Tara Mathews
HOWARD LAKE, MNHoward Lake’s 68th annual fishing derby will take place Saturday, Feb. 8 beginning at 1 p.m. at the Howard Lake public access, on the west side of the lake, off of Wright County Road 6.
The door prize drawing, which includes more than 100 prizes donated by local merchants, will take place before, and during the contest, and entrants need not be present to win.
Registration and weighing will take place from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m., and winners will be announced shortly after 3 p.m.
Prizes will be awarded for the biggest fish in these categories: bass, sunfish, crappie, walleye, and northern.
Raffle tickets can be purchased at Joe’s Sport Shop in Howard Lake or at the registration and weighing area during the event.
Currently, about 2,000 raffle tickets have been sold, according to Denny Decker, president of the Howard Lake Sportsmen’s Club.
Raffle tickets are the main fundraiser for the sportsmen’s club, and about 5,700 were sold last year, he said.
Participants in the raffle have the opportunity to win a portable fishhouse, Pheasants Forever print, or Ducks Unlimited print; and winning tickets are put back into the raffle for the grand prize drawing, which is a 6.5-foot-by-12-foot Ice Castle fishhouse.
There will be a food wagon provided by Charlie Bush, and a portable restroom donated by Mike Schmidt.
Roads and a parking area will be plowed by Darwin Zitzloff, to ensure easy access to the lake, according to Decker.
The annual ice chiseling and auger contests will also take place during the event.
The winners of last year’s auger contests were Ron Boehlke, in the electric auger contest; and Dan Zachmann in both power and manual auger contests.
Last year, Shelly Leistman won for biggest bass with her 5-pound, 1-ounce fish; Corey Schultz won the biggest sunfish prize with his 7-ounce sunfish; Ron Reinmuth took home the biggest crappie award, with his crappie weighing in at 1-pound, 1-ounce; Wyatt Schultz won the largest walleye prize for a 2-pound, 5-ounce catch; and Brandon Lafave took the prize for the largest northern, which weighed 8 pounds, 12 ounces.
“It’s a great time, and the ice is 22-24 inches this year,” Decker said. “We are just hoping for good weather.”