Fishing tournaments are not just a warm-weather sport. The Kampeska Chapter (South Dakota) has had great success with an annual ice fishing tournament on Lake Kampeska held each December. The tournament not only brings out seasoned anglers for a day of fishing, it gets youth engaged in outdoor recreation.
More than 200 anglers bought tickets to participate in the December 2014 tournament. “The weather was great and there were lots of kids out fishing,” reports Kampeska Chapter president Doug Alvine. The chapter provided door prizes for 25 youth, thanks to donations by local businesses and chapter members. The chapter also awarded prizes for the largest perch and northern pike caught by a young angler. Adults received cash prizes for the largest walleye, crappie, perch, northern pike, and bass. “We also had a $100 cash drawing every hour, so people had a chance to win even if they were not able to get out and fish,” says Alvine.
Participants brought their own fishing shacks and drilled their own holes, Alvine reports. “There are a lot of ice fishermen in the Watertown area, so most people have their own equipment. I did bring my auger along in case someone needed a hole drilled. It was pretty decent day, 15-20 degrees with little wind, so people could fish without a shack.”
Ten volunteers from Codington County Search and Rescue spent the afternoon at the lake to ensure the safety of all the tournament participants. “Having them there definitely gives the fishermen and the Ikes peace of mind,” says Alvine.
Tickets for the tournament were sold by Kampeska Chapter members as well as local Watertown businesses. “It is great to have the support of local businesses to help sell tickets and donate prizes for our tournament each year,” Alvine says. Local outdoor reporter Don Fjerstad with KWAT radio helped get the word out about the tournament – and caught a couple of walleye there himself. Alvine was interviewed about the event on several radio stations, which helped bring in participants and alert other ice fishing enthusiasts which areas of the lake would be in use that day. The local newspaper also ran an article about the tournament, and chapter members posted promotional fliers around town. It was truly a community effort to promote the tournament!
Even with the cash prizes awarded during the tournament, the chapter raised more than $1,300 to support conservation projects and youth programs. But the biggest rewards for chapter members were the smiles on young anglers’ faces and seeing generations of family members together on the ice.