A dash to the weigh-in

Last-minute big catch on the ice tops leaderboard during Canby tourney; ‘good turnout' at Lake Benton

Photo by Deb Gau Brady Hulzebos of Canby set up his fishing line as he kneels on the ice at Del Clark Lake, near Canby. Below,

The freezing cold didn’t keep anglers away from area lakes this weekend.

At Del Clark Lake near Canby, more than 200 people were brave enough to sit out on the ice for a two-hour fishing contest Saturday afternoon.

Levi Johnson said he had only been waiting “a few minutes” before getting a northern pike on his line. Johnson rushed the fish over to the weigh-in station.

“It was 24 and three-quarters (inches),” Johnson said. His fish ended up at the top of the leaderboard for the two-hour contest.

“It was fun,” Johnson said of catching the northern.

Area residents gathered at a pair of southwest Minnesota lakes over the weekend hoping to join in on the fun. The Lake Benton Sportsman’s Club held its ninth annual ice fishing tournament, and the Canby Fire Department and Canby Sportsman’s Club held their fifth annual Canby Classic ice fishing contest.

Subzero wind chills this weekend meant most anglers were staying inside fish houses or portable shelters. But organizers said the cold didn’t hurt attendance at the fishing tournaments. An estimated 550 to 600 people took part in the Lake Benton tournament.

“We had a really good turnout,” said Lake Benton Sportsman’s Club member Lindsey Dubanoski.

The tournament brought out youths and families as well as adult anglers, organizers said.

“We had a very good crowd, considering the temperature,” said former Canby firefighter Dave Verhelst. “There’s a lot of young people out here.” The Canby Classic had 614 participants for its 24-hour fishing contest, and over 200 for the two-hour contest, Verhelst said.

Anglers at Lake Benton said things had been going slow Saturday morning. Only a few perch and crappies had been caught in the first couple hours of the tournament.

“Usually we’d have more fish, and more species,” said Sportsman’s Club member Al Trigg.

Some of the anglers at Del Clark Lake said the fishing had been a little slow there too.

“We had a northern on, but it broke the line,” said Krystal Schmitt.

However, by the end of the 24-hour tournament, people had caught a variety of fish, from perch to northerns and even a few walleye.

Even if the fish weren’t biting, being out on the lake with friends or family was still a good experience, anglers said. Jeff DeRuyter said ice fishing was something fun to do during the Minnesota winter. The DeRuyter family were all bundled into a portable shelter on Lake Benton as they watched their fishing lines.

“It’s still a lot of fun,” Jaiden Bahr said of ice fishing with his friends at Lake Benton. “It’s like fishing and camping at the same time.”


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