Join the challengeIce fishing challenge moves to Lake Agnes.
Since 2000, anglers have traveled from as far away as Alaska, Australia and even Africa to Alexandria, Minnesota in hopes of landing a lunker in the annual Ice Fishing Challenge.
The event has grown considerably since its first contest in 2000, which drew more than 300 contestants. In more recent years, it has drawn as many as 3,500 contestants a year.
The Challenge was recognized in the February 2011 edition of Outdoor Life Magazine as number nine on a list of the top 10 ice fishing tournaments in North America.
Thousand are expected to be on hand this year for the event, which is set to begin at noon on February 12. It will conclude at 3 p.m.
Organizers have announced some exciting changes to the event, including a new location, a new prize structure and the addition of a youth fishing expo.
For the past 10 years, contestants have dropped their fishing lines in Lake L’Homme Dieu on the Alexandria chain of lakes.
This year’s event will move to Alexandria’s Lake Agnes,
Edward Reif, a member of the Alexandria Sertoma Club and co-chairman of this year’s Ice Fishing Challenge, hopes that the new venue will give fishermen from outside the area greater exposure to the city of Alexandria.
“The venue is much closer to downtown Alexandria,” he said. “We want to make this a family event, and we want people to experience what downtown Alexandria has to offer, as well as some excellent fishing.”
Agnes Boulevard NW will be closed from 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. that day in an effort to minimize traffic on the ice and to deter parking along the narrow roadway.
Parking will be available at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, with shuttles starting at 8 a.m.
NEW PRIZE STRUCTURE
Accompanying the new venue is a new prize structure, with all-cash prizes awarded for the top 100 fish.
This year’s prize pool totals a whopping $40,200, with the top fish bringing home $10,000 in cash.
Those not lucky enough to catch the lunker of the day need not worry; the angler catching the 100th place fish will still bring home $1,000. In the past, the 100th place fish has been as small as 0.08 pounds.
Those not interested in fishing can purchase raffle tickets, with a total prize pool of $21,800.
YOUTH FISHING EXPO
In addition, this year’s event will feature a youth fishing expo. Just before the competition, from 9 to 11 a.m., professional fishermen will offer a free educational and interactive event for youth ages 16 and younger.
Tickets are $35 per contestant and can be purchased on the Ice Fishing Challenge website at www.icefishingchallenge.org or at any of the following retail locations: Christopherson’s Bait or Elden’s Food Fair in Alexandria, the General Store in Osakis, Koep’s Corner in Glenwood, or the Super Stop in Sauk Centre.