Fishing for funds

Turnout is high for Athletics Department and Recreation Department fundraiser despite cold temperatures


Photo by Elizabeth Jackson

UW-Eau Claire senior Jake Safstrom stands in line to weigh a Northern Pike. The fish totaled 4.332 pounds. © 2014 Elizabeth Jackson.

Story by Glen Olson, Staff Writer

Saturday, the UW-Eau Claire Athletics Department and Recreation Department held the first annual The Jig’s Up ice fishing contest on Lake Altoona as a joint fundraiser.

The event ran from 6 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., with tickets costing $25 per registered fish. The event also offered a variety of prizes from area businesses and sponsors, especially the largest sponsor, Scheels.

The lake was busy all day, even though it was 18 below zero when they were setting up to open.

Director of Athletics Scott Kilgallon said the event raised a lot of money and had a good turnout, despite the cold weather.

“For a first-time event, I think it was very successful,” Kilgallon said. “And honestly, we’ll probably have to look for a bigger lake.”

Some of the athletics department staff was working, along with players and coaches from the football team.

Mark Munger, a junior football player at Eau Claire, said he saw a lot of community members while he was

“It was a pretty good turnout, considering the weather,” Munger said. “But the great prizes are probably another thing that draws people out.”

There were prizes for the 100 largest fish, with money, fishing gear and gift cards up for grabs.

The $1,000 top prize went to Michael Andrews for his 4.73 pound Northern, with second place going to Dennis Steffen for a 4.56 pounder and third to Jake Safstrom with another at 4.33 pounds.

There was also a raffle with 11 winners. Prizes ranged from $50 gift cards to a large ice fishing

Andy Jepsen, Facilities Coordinator for the Athletic Department, said the event was a success for the departments involved. For a new fundraiser, it had been better than they thought.

He said they had been running around like crazy since set-up at 5:15 a.m.

“I knew it would be a great event for community involvement and that the community would rally around it,” Jepsen said.

He also said they wanted to do this event because they knew it would attract people other than the usual supporters of the athletics and recreation departments. They knew the community loved to ice fish, so it seemed like a “natural fit.”

He said quite a few students showed up too, though not as many as they would like to have in the future.

In all, the contestants caught 230 fish, and the departments reached their goal of selling 500 tickets.

Kilgallon said because the event was different from what they have had in the past, they didn’t know what to expect, and hadn’t known whether they would end up with “five people or 1,000 people.”

Kilgallon said they had a lot of help, and the community members enjoyed the event.

“We had great support,” Kilgallon said, “not only from athletics staff, but from the football team too.”