Keeping their cool

LAKE METIGOSHE – Extremely cold temperatures and nasty winds created dangerous wind chills – certainly less-than-ideal conditions for ice fishing. However, some hearty souls of the North American Ice Fishing Circuit weren’t about to let the spell of nasty winter weather keep them indoors and off the ice.

“It was brutal,” said Duane Getzlaff, tournament organizer, when asked about the weather conditions.

Lake Metigoshe was the location for a NAIFC event Jan. 5. The temperature and the wind speed remained nearly the same for the event, 25 below zero and 25 mph. At one time, 27 teams had registered for the bluegill tournament. That number dipped to 21 by start time.

“Overall it was a fine tournament. The fishermen liked it,” said Getzlaff. “There were nice fish caught. I think everyone that fished it would come back and a bunch more if the weather would cooperate.”

Despite wicked windchills in the minus 60 range, some of the dedicated ice anglers chose to fish outside for the five-hour event, even though portable shelters were allowed. The winning team was Pete Venturi and Nick Schertz of Wisconsin. They weighed in a 16-bluegill limit of 10.84 pounds. So, too, did the team of David Fike and Troy Jones of Bowden. The tiebreaker was largest bluegill, a difference of a mere 0.02 ounces. First place paid $1,550.

The winner of the Humminbird Big Fish award was the Manitoba team of Roger Stearns and Todd Williamson with a 1.05-pound bluegill. In addition to earning an automatic entry into the NAIFC national finals, Venturi and Schertz were named North Dakota state bluegill champions.

A highlight of the Lake Metigoshe event was an appearance by “Mr. Ice Fishing,” Dave Genz of St. Cloud, Minn. The veteran ice angler was the emcee for the final weigh-in at Twin Oaks Resort on Lake Metigoshe. Genz has pioneered many ice fishing tactics and is widely considered to be the nation’s top authority on ice fishing. A number of innovative and well-used ice fishing products bear his name.

The next stop for the NAIFC is Jan. 19 at Hebgen Lake, near West Yellowstone, Mont. More than 60 teams have registered. Target fish for the Hebgen Lake tournament are rainbow and cutthroat trout.