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Brad Laabs: 'Tis the season for fishing derbies and boat shows

Contacting local bait shops here and in our surrounding communities is a great place to get the information you need.

Fishing Columnist Brad Laabs
Fishing Columnist Brad Laabs

We will still be cold into the mid-week, but with luck we will start to get some relief and have daytime highs in the teens to make it more comfortable on the ice.

We will have a couple more cold snaps, but generally as we get to the end of January, we start to get more tolerable winter weather. We are down to about six more weeks of the ice fishing season at this point for most ice anglers.

Traveling north can extend your time on the ice in the late season.

Meanwhile, you can find a fishing derby or two available to participate in almost every weekend from now until the middle of February.

In the past, I have listed specific ice derby events with times and some general information. I am hesitant to do that again, as I have received feedback from some that I neglected to mention, or others having feelings that I was showing favoritism or bias.


It was never my intent to feature one over another, but to just get the information out about other options (like derbies) for the ice fishing opportunities in our immediate area and our region.

I will leave it to you to search out the opportunities that are available that fit into your schedule. Contacting local bait shops here and in our surrounding communities is a great place to get the information you need, as most derbies will post info at all the bait shops. Most derbies can also be researched online.

Most of the events last 3 or 4 hours, and are set up to be very “user friendly.” The majority are fundraisers for good causes, with many community partners making donations of time or prizes for the events. They are family- and kid-friendly, and become very social community events.

These winter activities are great examples of community spirit and fun that can be had in this winter wonderland of ours. You don’t need to be a tournament-type of angler or an experienced ice angler to have success at fishing derbies.

f you are an experienced ice angler, it can up the “luck factor” to get in on some of the great prizes available. Most offer raffle tickets with great prizes, as well and you can easily become the winner of a fantastic prize for donating a few bucks to a good cause.

Many have great food and other community activities available, as well, to help pass the mid-winter time.

We are also at the start of the winter boat-marine- fishing shows. These events will run from now through March in all the larger surrounding cities like Grand Forks, Fargo-Moorhead, St. Cloud, Bemidji, Brainerd, Duluth, and of course, the Twin Cities.

Most of these events are well advertised and can also be looked up on the internet or social media sites. Again, I will leave it to you to look up and not show any favoritism here!


These events always have great speakers, and all the latest in what the fishing industry has to offer. Sponsored pro staff and industry experts are available to answer questions and share insights. Great deals on boats and marine products can be had at these events.

They are timely, as we start to get a little fed up with winter, and are ready for spring and summer to get here so we can enjoy the upcoming open water season. There is still lots for us to do yet this winter. We have no reason to get bored or cabin fever.

(Brad Laabs owns Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes) 

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