By Chad Koenen
Looking to “lure” in local residents for an afternoon of fun, the Henning Rod and Gun Club will be hosting its 42nd annual Ice Fishing Derby on Saturday. The ice fishing derby will be held on the east end of Middle Leaf Lake beginning at 12 p.m.
While many area ice fishing tournaments have been canceled this year due to COVID-19, or gone virtual, Henning Rod and Gun Club member Mike Helle said the club wanted to continue with its annual event to provide area residents an opportunity to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors.
“If we can get people out doing something fun that is our goal. COVID has been tough on everybody,” said Helle. “This is a great way to get out on the lake. Bring the kids and have fun.”
Unlike a number of other fishing tournaments in the area, the Henning Ice Fishing Derby allows participants to fish from a fish house, sit on the ice and just sit outside without even having to put out a line. The ice fishing derby typically attracts a few hundred people, but Helle said the club was unsure on how many people would attend this year due to COVID-19.
Prizes are awarded for the biggest walleye, bass, northern pike and panfish caught, and a large raffle features countless door prizes. Prizes include a new ice auger.
The fishing derby is one of the bigger fundraisers the rod and gun hosts each year, but Helle said raising money will take a back seat this year to hosting an event that will provide people a chance to get outside and have a bit of normalcy.
“They can still socially distance, they can bring their mask if they wish. It is just a good outgoing thing the club can do,” he said. “We have to get things going for our community again. It is a fun weekend thing for the whole family to come out to.”
For those who don’t have an ice auger, the club typically has one available to help drill holes. The ice fishing derby will go from 12-3 p.m. and food will be available to purchase on the ice. Typically the club has a bon fire near the announcers stand to help keep participants warm throughout the fishing derby.
Tickets are just $2 apiece and can be purchased in advance at Mid Central Equipment, B&D Foods and First National Bank in Henning. Tickets include an entry into the raffle, as well as entry into the ice fishing derby. Raffle winners do not need to be present to win so individuals can purchase a ticket to support the club even if they do not want to attend the ice fishing derby.