Lions fishing contest marked by whiteout

Hundreds of fisherman braved the near-whiteout conditions of Green Lake for the annual Lions Ice Fishing Tournament.

Hundreds of fisherman braved the near-whiteout conditions of Green Lake for the annual Lions Ice Fishing Tournament.

Jeremiah Buck’s .58-pound crappie was the largest fish caught at the Princeton Lions Club annual ice fishing contest last Sunday on Green Lake, to give Buck the $1,000 grand prize.

Jeremiah Buck’s .58-pound crappie was the largest fish caught at the Princeton Lions Club annual ice fishing contest. Here, Buck holds the $1,000 check he earned for his efforts.

Jeremiah Buck’s .58-pound crappie was the largest fish caught at the Princeton Lions Club annual ice fishing contest. Here, Buck holds the $1,000 check he earned for his efforts.

Coming in second was Cameron Kramer’s .56-pound walleye, to win an ice auger. Third place was a .54-pound crappie caught by Sean McLaughlin, to win a radio.

The fishing wasn’t as good at this year’s contest and that likely had to do with the snowstorm during the contest that ran 1:30-4 p.m., said Lions Club member and contest organizer Scott Liestman.

A fisherman sits on an upside-down bucket and braves the elements as he waits for elusive fish.

A fisherman sits on an upside-down bucket and braves the elements as he waits for elusive fish.

“You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t,” regarding whether or not to postpone the contest in light of the snowstorm that had been forecast, Liestman said.

Lions member Gerald Boser said it takes some pretty bad conditions for the Lions to postpone this contest.

The difficulty in postponing is that there might be even fewer attendees because many people schedule in the original contest date to attend, but not an alternate weekend, Liestman said. Also, it’s more difficulty getting workers for the event when it is postponed, he said.

Last year the Lions Club postponed the contest from the original date of Feb. 12, to Feb. 19, because the ice on Feb. 12 was deemed too thin.

Both Boser and Liestman talked about the whiteout conditions during the contest and how it made it difficult to find the plowed route from the shore to the contest site. Liestman recalled one woman calling him by phone during the contest to say that she was out on the ice on Green Lake but because of the visibility couldn’t see where the contest was being conducted.

The Lions plan the contest about four months ahead therefore no one can really know what the exact conditions will be in advance, said Liestman.

The attendance at this year’s contest was 385, much less than the Lions had hoped for.

Normally the ice fishing contest is the largest fundraiser for the Lions Club, but this year the club’s biggest fundraiser will likely be the fly-in, drive-in brunch during the Rum River Festival in June, Liestman said.

But Liestman was appreciative for the support the club received from all who donated prizes for the event, starting with the $1,000 cash award for biggest fish. That prize was donated by Crystal Cabinet Works.

In all, there was more than $11,000 worth of prizes, according to Liestman.

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