40 years on the ice

Lake Hendricks ice fishing derby celebrates a milestone

Photo by Deb Gau Natalia Olson and Jaxon Olson, both from Brookings, S.D., got ready to do some ice fishing Saturday on Lake Hendricks. The 40th annual Lake Hendricks Fishing Derby drew hundreds of people out on the ice.

HENDRICKS — For the 40th anniversary of the Lake Hendricks ice fishing derby, organizers were going big. A panorama of fish houses could be seen stretching across the ice Saturday — more of the lake had been opened up to the contest than in past years. Tom Landmark, one of the organizers helping to run the derby, estimated between 500 and 600 people were gathered to fish and socialize.

“It’s probably one of the biggest turnouts that we’ve ever had,” he said.

“It’s become a community event,” said Brenda Boeve, president of the Lake Hendricks Improvement Association. The local response to the fishing contest, from the sponsors supporting the event to the community members who helped plow roads through the snow on the frozen lake before derby day, has helped the event thrive. “We are so proud of that.”

By noon on Saturday, there was steady activity out on the lake. Landmark said there had been fish entered in all three derby categories: walleye, perch and northern pike.

“We’re just getting started,” angler Adam VanDerostyne said. He had just finished augering two holes in the ice, while young Aaden VanDerostyne was helping to scoop the slush and ice chunks away so they could start fishing. It was their second year taking part in the derby — hopefully, they’d be getting more bites this year, Adam VanDerostyne said.

The Hendricks event brought out both longtime participants and relative newcomers. Rich Nomeland, a Lake Benton resident, said one of the good things about the Hendricks derby was that it was close by and made for a good weekend out.

The sun and relative warmth this weekend were also positives, anglers said. While there was a steady wind blowing across the ice on Saturday, temperatures were into the 30s. Some anglers weren’t using fish houses or shelters.

Boeve said last week’s weather worked out well for the fishing derby — even the extreme subzero temperatures reported around the region on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We’re glad the deep freeze helped stabilize the ice,” Boeve said. Without a solid layer of ice, the fishing derby couldn’t take place. The ice on Lake Hendricks was about 20 inches thick on Saturday, she said.

There weren’t many complaints from people taking part in the derby, at any rate.

“This is a nice Minnesota day,” said angler Randy VanLeeuwe.