A new ice fishing club based in Minot hopes to provide avid ice fishermen with another way to enjoy their sport. A series of ice fishing tournaments has been scheduled. Top ice anglers will have a chance to advance to state and national competition.
"We're called NoDak Ice Affliction," said Shane Johnson, Minot. "We are part of the Ice Federation. I've had lots of interest in it. It is starting to get bigger than I ever thought."
Johnson estimates eight to 10 two-man teams have already committed to a four tournament circuit that is scheduled to commence in December. He expects interest to continue to climb as the ice fishing season nears.
Ice fishing is a growing winter activity in North Dakota. Recently a new ice fishing club was organized in Minot. Here a fisherman checks tip-ups located outside his icehouse.
"There's 25 or 30 fishermen up in the air yet, trying to find partners. Hopefully it takes off and catches on and we get 20 to 30 teams in a couple of years," said Johnson.
Ice fishing requires dedicated fishermen willing to brave North Dakota's winter weather, short days and, often, narrow bite windows. Nevertheless, there are a growing number of persistent ice anglers that venture onto frozen water each winter in the hopes of fooling a few bluegills, perch, walleyes or northern pike.
"I love ice fishing!" said Johnson. "That's my biggest passion. I work in the construction industry so, in the winter, I have all kinds of time. I love the cold."
NoDak Ice Affliction tournament schedule
Dec. 14-15 - Lake Metigoshe Double Header, bluegill.
Jan. 12, 2014 - Lake Smishek, bluegill.
Feb. 9, 2014 - Antelope Lake, perch.
Today's ice fishermen don't really have to spend all their time in the cold. Clothing has evolved immensely in the past few years. So, too, have heated ice shelters and houses, making ice fishing a very comfortable and enjoyable pastime.
Johnson says anyone interested in participating in NoDak Ice Affliction events should go to the (teamextremeicefishing.com) website and click on the Ice Federation tab for additional information. While all of the rules for upcoming tournament have not been completely finalized, regulations generally will mirror guidelines followed by the North American Ice Fishing Circuit.
Several sponsors have helped make NoDak Ice Affliction a reality, including tournament payouts. According to Johnson, the season's opening weekend doubleheader on Lake Metigoshe will pay $400 for first place, $200 for second and $100 for third. Teams will weigh their eight largest bluegills each day.
The final two events on the upcoming circuit will be held at Lake Smishek on Jan. 12, 2014, and Antelope Lake on Feb. 9, 2014. Lake Smishek will be a bluegill event with a bonus paid for the largest northern pike. Antelope Lake will feature perch. Payouts for both events are scheduled to be $200 for first, $100 for second and $50 for third.
There is one other Team Extreme affiliated club in North Dakota, Hardwater Xtreme in Grand Forks. Both the Minot and Grand Forks clubs will send qualifiers to the state championship event the second weekend of March. The site has yet to be determined. From there qualifiers will advance to a national event March 22-23, 2014, at an undisclosed site in Minnesota.