Devils Lake ice fishing tournament set for Saturday on Six-Mile Bay

Jan. 22—DEVILS LAKE — All systems are go for the Devils Lake Volunteer Fire Department's 40th annual Ice Fishing Tournament, set for 1 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27, on Six-Mile Bay.

There had been some concern about adequate ice after a late start to winter and unseasonably warm temperatures before the recent cold snap. But organizers who checked the ice Saturday morning, Jan. 20, found more than enough ice — 21 1/2 inches — to safely hold the event, said Cory Meyer, assistant fire chief and member of the tournament's organizing committee.

It's not unusual to have more than 4,000 people on the ice trying their luck for the fishing prizes, which this year include a 2024 Chevy Colorado pickup for the second-largest walleye and $2,000 cash prizes for the largest walleye, perch and northern pike.

"Ultimately, we're in the business of safety," Meyer said. "We're not going to put anybody in harm's way."

As in previous years, the fishing tournament is just a small portion of the weekend festivities, and a full slate of activities is on tap in the Devils Lake Memorial Building, 508 Fourth Ave. N.E.

The tournament and raffle is the department's primary fundraiser. This year's tournament features more than $325,000 in prizes, including the grand prize of a 2024 F-150 pickup in the raffle drawing. In commemoration of the tournament's 40th anniversary, the 40th raffle prize is an Ice Castle wheeled fish house.

All 24,000 tickets for the popular event are sold out, Meyer said.

Events get underway Thursday, Jan. 25, with tournament registration from 5 to 11 p.m. in the Memorial Building. There's a soup and chili feed beginning at 6 p.m., and deejay entertainment from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Registration continues from 5 to 11 p.m. Friday, Jan. 26, also in the Memorial Building, with another soup and chili feed at 6 p.m. and a Fisherman's Dance from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.

Saturday's events begin with tournament registration from 8 to 10 a.m. at the Memorial Building, followed by the fishing tournament from 1 to 3:30 p.m. on Six-Mile Bay. There'll be a supper beginning at 4 p.m. in the Memorial Building, followed by the big raffle drawing at 7 p.m., and another Fisherman's Dance from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.

As of early this week, at least, the extended weather forecast for Devils Lake looks favorable for the ice fishing tournament. According to the National Weather Service, Saturday's forecast for Devils Lake calls for mostly sunny skies, a high near 30 and west winds of 9 to 11 mph.

"Hopefully, we're going to see a bunch of people here and have a good time and promote Devils Lake and the fishing here," Meyer said. "Ultimately, our goal is to bring people into town and have a good time."

Organizers have only had to cancel the fishing portion of the event once in the tournament's 40-year history. In 2021, the ice fishing tournament was canceled because of unseasonably warm weather that resulted in ice conditions that organizers deemed unsafe. In addition, the raffle drawing was held virtually in 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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