Some ice fishing tourney confusion may have more to it than just missed dates, stirring conflict in this Minnesota town.
Maple Lake is a popular ice fishing location in Wright County in Minnesota. And every year for the past four decades, the lake has hosted a popular ice fishing tournament.
This year, however, has been marked by confusion and irritation with the creation of a second ice fishing tournament—scheduled just a week before the traditional one.
The Maple Lake Ice Fishing Derby is celebrating its 41st edition this year. It usually takes place on the Saturday before Super Bowl, Feb. 6 this year.
Causing the confusion and hard feelings is the creation of another ice fishing tourney, the Maple Lake Ice Fishing Contest, which was scheduled for Jan. 30, just a week before the traditional derby.
“I think the whole town is kind of caught in the middle,” said Mike Raiche, president of the Maple Lake Property Association and an organizer of the Maple Lake Ice Fishing Derby.
Longtime Maple Lake Ice Fishing Derby volunteer Nick Olsen started the new tournament because of conflict over the direction of the derby. Olsen wanted to keep growing the event, while Raiche was concerned the 800-acre lake couldn’t handle more people. Besides the derby, the 40-year-old event also includes a party on the ice, an arctic plunge, an ice auger contest and a vintage sled show.
Olsen created the new contest to raise money for wounded soldiers.
While two ice fishing tournaments on the same lake, with similar names and just a week apart would alone raise some eyebrows, the weather this winter has added to the confusion.
Officials determined that the ice was unsafe for the thousands of people slated to be there. The Maple Lake Ice Fishing Derby rescheduled its event from Feb. 6 to Feb. 20. The Maple Lake Ice Fishing Contest canceled its inaugural event.
Sponsors and participants thought the 40-year event was being canceled. Raiche also says that sponsors who had worked with Olsen on the derby thought they were sponsoring the traditional event and not the new tournament.
According to Olsen, no sponsors were confused. Olsen says he is looking to launch the Maple Lake Ice Fishing Contest in 2017.