Weather Forecast


It's fishing derby time

We are now at the time in the hard water season you can participate in ice fishing tournaments and derbies. They will be available somewhere in the state every weekend now until the end of February. The reason for the January and February dates are to take advantage of quality ice conditions. Many of them are a part of events associated with community winter fest activities. Most of the events are used as fundraisers for good causes in their local communities.

Without intending to intrude on each other, some of these events overlap and end up competing against each other. When making your decision to participate in an ice fishing derby, please consider the fundraising service and not just the prize you are hoping to win.

These events are a great wintertime activities that can break up the monotony that can sometimes occur in January and February. They are events that are fun for the whole family. Most only last a few hours so even the younger kids can enjoy the festive atmosphere. Everyone has a chance to be a hero.

Tournaments tend to bring out the more serious and competitive ice anglers. They tend to award prizes for specific species and big fish wins the money. Derbies award those kinds of prizes also, but may award prizes for random catches such as 10th fish or smallest fish. They may even just draw registered anglers at random for prizes. If you haven't participated in one of these events, I encourage you to grab your spouse, kids and/or buddy and give one a try.

A few that are going to be held in early to mid January may have to make adaptations due to the current ice conditions. We have had some cancel in past years if ice conditions have been poor or dangerous. Most will still host other activities and hold drawings for the prizes for those that have already purchased tickets. We are having a small cold snap that should help with ice conditions. I would expect we will start a trend with real winter weather now and by the end of the month all derbies will be good to go.

Most events do not let participants park vehicles on the ice. They will provide shuttle service or are within walking distance to the area that will be fished. Many volunteers help to make these events fun, safe, and trouble free. Holes are drilled and volunteers are on the ice to help answer any questions or provide help to make your experience positive.

One of Minnesota's largest and most entertaining ice fishing events is coming up on Jan. 21 and is hosted by the Brainerd JC's. Information on the Brainerd Ice Fishing extravaganza is available at

We have some local events coming up in the weeks after that. Next week I will provide some dates and information for some of our local events. I will include a list of a few other large and popular events that you may be interested in checking out. Remember that it is about the fishing and not the catching.

(Laabs runs Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)