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Kids gather on Agnes to test their new ice fishing knowledge

Alexandria's Bryce Thompson, 4, does a little jigging with his brother, Brenden, helping him out on Lake Agnes during the North American Ice Fishing Circuit's kids ice fishing camp. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)1 / 4
Anna Nippert, 10-years-old from Woodbury, hopes for a bite as she fishes on Lake Agnes Saturday afternoon. (Eric Morken / Echo Press) 2 / 4
Alexandria 4-year-old Joel Preston (left) and his brother, 9-year-old Levi, try to entice a bite during Saturday's NAIFC kids ice fishing camp on Lake Agnes. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)3 / 4
Osakis' Thomas Wiener, 5, reels up his line while fishing on Lake Agnes on Saturday afternoon. (Eric Morken / Echo Press) 4 / 4

Four-year-old Bryce Thompson of Alexandria was fishing wish his dad, Chris, and brother, Brenden, on Lake Agnes on Saturday afternoon.

The family had taken advantage of an opportunity to learn from some professional ice anglers during the three-day North American Ice Fishing Circuit stop in Alexandria this weekend. Throughout the first two days, about 150 people had taken advantage of an opportunity to meet and learn some tips from those anglers, first at Ollie’s Service on Broadway on Friday.

On Saturday, Ollie’s hosted a kids ice fishing camp where anglers went through jigging techniques, ice safety, along with the equipment and bait that catches them fish. Finally, the day ended with the kids heading out to Lake Agnes to put some of that knowledge to the test.

“That was really neat,” Chris said of bringing Bryce to the kids fishing camp. “They did a lot of start to finish on how to ice fish, from getting out on the ice and staying safe. Finding a good spot, different types of augers to use and then some technique on how to fish. How to jig, how to make that hook look enticing for the fish.”

Bryce has not done a lot of ice fishing yet. Like others around him, he had not caught any fish by about 3:30, but at age 4, a day on the ice is part of introducing him to the sport.

“He’s just getting to the age now where he’ll probably start enjoying it a little bit if he catches some fish,” Chris said. “I thought that would be fun to bring him to the seminar and get him out.”

The first two days of educational opportunities are a prelude to Sunday’s main event when Lake Darling will host a 2019 Open Qualifier Tournament for the NAIFC. Through this tournament, the top five finishers will automatically qualify for the NAIFC Championship that will be held next December.

“There’s teams from Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, people from all over coming to Alex to do some fishing,” Chris said. “They’ve been here for several days, so it’s kind of neat.”

The NAIFC Tournament Series qualifying season begins in January and lasts into March. Each of the six to nine qualifying tournaments in states across the ice belt is a three-day event, with two days of educational opportunities like those in Alexandria. The tournaments have a maximum of 100 two-person teams at each stop.

Anglers will take to the ice at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday and can begin fishing at 8. They will be back into shore at 1 p.m. before a weigh-in at the Arrowwood Tennis Center at approximately 1:30.

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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