‘Good ice’ for Lake Benton ice fishing tournament

Sportsman’s Club preparing for sixth annual event

File photo Ice fishing trailers covered the Lake Benton ice during the 2019 Lake Benton Sportsmen’s Club Fishing Tournament.

LAKE BENTON — This weekend, the ice on Lake Benton will start to look like a little city, Scott Christensen said. Area residents will be gathering and putting up shelters, all the better to compete in the annual ice fishing tournament, organized by the Lake Benton Sportsman’s Club.

The club’s sixth annual fishing tournament starts Saturday morning, although registration starts today.

Participation at the ice fishing tournament has been going up over the past six years, said Christensen, treasurer of the Lake Benton Sportsman’s Club.

“It’s probably tripled in size since our first year. The first year, we had around 100 people,” he said. Last year, the number was around 420 people. “It’s been exciting, watching it grow.”

While some Minnesota lakes had been reporting unpredictable ice this winter due to fluctuating temperatures, Christensen said conditions are looking good on Lake Benton for this weekend.

“We’ve got good ice on the lake,” at about 16 inches thick, he said. “And most of the snow blew off,” which will make it easier for anglers to get out on the ice. Being able to use ice fishing houses is one of the positives about the Lake Benton tournament, he said.

“A lot of people like the fact that they can bring their ice houses here, and they don’t have to sit out on the ice,” Christensen said.

The fish have also been biting, Christensen said. The tournament will have competitions for the biggest walleye, northern pike, perch, crappie and bluegill.

The Sportsman’s Club will be holding a raffle, with prizes including a Polaris Ranger and portable fish house, a Green Mountain pellet grill, and an Aqua-Vu underwater camera.

Another of the fun parts about the fishing tournament is that it’s open to people of all ages.

“We get a lot of families that come out” for the event, Christensen said. “We want to get kids involved in the outdoors.”

To help encourage young people to come out and take part in the tournament, registration costs are reduced for anglers age 16 and under, he said.

Kids also get a prize when they register for the tournament.

Proceeds from the event help cover the cost of aeration for the lake, Christensen said. If there are additional funds left over, the club also supports local youth programs like 4-H, he said.

The ice fishing tournament starts Saturday morning, at Al’s Landing on Lake Benton. The tournament area will be on the southwestern end of the lake, Christensen said.

“We’ll have flags up marking the area you can fish in,” he said.

Registration for the fishing tournament starts 8 a.m. Friday, at the Lake Benton Resort, and at 6 a.m. Saturday on the ice. Registration is $20 for adults and $5 for kids. Fishing hours will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The raffle drawing will be held after the tournament.

Additional information on the ice fishing tournament can be found online, at the Lake Benton Sportsman’s Club’s Facebook page.