New Angling Groups at 5th Annual Ice Fishing Competition

Students, veterans, and kids join competition

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Jig’s Up contest hands out thousands of dollars in prizes to anglers who win the raffle or catch fish, big or small.

Photo by Rachel Helgeson

Jig’s Up contest hands out thousands of dollars in prizes to anglers who win the raffle or catch fish, big or small.

Seasoned anglers, eager kids of all ages and fishing club students huddled over their ice fishing holes last Saturday, Feb. 10 on Lake Wissota. All patiently waited for a bite from the heaviest fish or the special tagged fish, both a chance at winning big at the fifth annual Jig’s Up ice fishing competition.

UW-Eau Claire Recreation Facilities Representative Sheryl Poirier said the competition is an opportunity for a diverse group of people to come together on the planning committee and on the ice to focus on bringing a well-run competition to the area.

Poirier, who works in the marketing area of Jig’s Up, said she “loves it” because it is a chance to support each other in the community. The profits go towards the clubs, like the Lion’s Club, that are a part of the committee.

“It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved,” Poirier said.

Six local high school teams were invited to join the Jig’s Up competition for the first time this year. These included Rice Lake, Eau Claire North, Elk Mound, Hortonville and two teams from Barron.

A coach accompanied each high school team and verified the length of the fish the students caught. The student anglers with the longest catches received trophies.

Rice Lake recently created a fishing team at its high school. Many of the students, like Jake Shore and Noah Manny, fish nearly every weekend outside of competitions.

“It’s fun, it’s cold, (but) we’re learning a lot,” Jacob Wilder, another Rice Lake student, said at the competition.

With the inclusion of high schools in this year’s competition, Wisconsin Interscholastic Fishing Association President Wendy Dallmann said “it’s a good start” to welcoming more groups to compete.

Other groups like the Red, White and Blue team, comprising veterans, competed for the first time this year at Jig’s Up. Young kids were also welcome to compete.

Mitchell Kullman, of Hudson, and his two young sons competed on Saturday. Kullman, a relative of UW-Eau Claire’s Director of Recreation Andy Jepsen, has been participating in Jig’s Up since its first year.

“It’s a community builder, not only for the UW system but for Chippewa and Lake Wissota,” Kullman said. “We enjoy coming out and spending time on the ice.”

The UW-Eau Claire Student Rod and Gun club was responsible for weighing in each fish and upholding the ice fishing laws. Brad Juhlke, president of the club, said more than 20 student volunteers signed up this year to weigh-in fish, sell raffle tickets or help the new high school teams.

Along with a raffle, participants can win big prizes from their catches.

Over 80 prizes are handed out each year, according to the planning committee. The first twenty-five heaviest fish are given prizes, then every fifth heaviest wins as well. The angler who catches the tagged fish can win a new Ford truck.

“We always say ‘even a small fish can win big,’” UW-Eau Claire Recreation Facilities Representative Sheryl Poirier said. “Until the last fish is weighed in, you don’t know where you are (placed).”

Anglers purchased more than 1,200 tickets this year.

Travis Turner caught the largest fish this year, weighing in a northern at 8.141 pounds and brought home a Scheels cooler.

In 100th place with a 1.716-pound northern, Robert Arbs won the 2017 Ice Castle Scout fishing house.

Eric Klenke in 200th place with a crappie weighing in at .779 pounds took home the $1,000 cash prize.

No one caught the tagged fish that would win the new Ford truck.

The Jig’s Up planning committee is arranging to change the competition’s date to increase the number of entries, since there is another fishing competition on Long Lake scheduled the same weekend each year.