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A young girl sits on her bucket waiting for a fish. / Submitted by Gary Engberg
A young girl with her first fish! / Submitted by Gary Engberg
A previous Kids Fishing Day. / Contributed by Gary Engberg


Itís that time of the year for kidís ice fishing derbies and local ice fishing jamborees throughout the state of Wisconsin. Thereís good and solid ice in most locations that has been slowly building up the last few weeks. Letís just hope that this normal winter weather continues, so that ice anglers can continue fishing and the areaís fishing clubs and organizations are able to hold their events. A vast majority of local waters have had good ice for well over a week and ice fishermen have been out in mass hoping to catch some panfish for fun or for a great fish fry. Recently, the weather has been good with night-time temperatures cold enough to keep adding ice to the base.

This coming Saturday, January 12, 2013, the Yahara Fishing Club of Madison will be holding their annual ďKids Ice Fishing DayĒ at Madisonís Brittingham Bay Shelter from 9 a.m. to noon. The Yahara Fishing Club is one of the stateís oldest fishing clubs promoting fishing rights and responsibilities since 1946. The Club has a Kids Fishing Day in the summer at Warner Park and in the winter, a Kids Ice Fishing Day at the Brittingham Park location. This organization does nothing but help promote fishing in the area, contribute to worthy causes that help the sport of fishing, and try to get more adults and younger anglers involved in the sport. If youíre interested in joining this great group of fishers, go to their website at or attend one of the organizations meetings which are held the second Tuesday of every month at the Lakeside VFW Hall from September thru May at 7 p.m. and are open to the public. The meetings include guest speakers, fishing reports, raffles, a magazine exchange, a February auction, a video/DVD library, and a fishing contest. The June, July, and August meetings are held ďon the waterĒ at various Madison Chain Lakes with food, drink, and fishing. If you like to fish come and check the group out at a meeting or see some members and talk with them at the Madison Fishing Expo that is coming up at the end of February.

If you are an ice fisherman or have never been ice fishing before, then this is the weekend to take your family and children out to Brittingham Park this Saturday. There will be club members on hand to help anyone who hasnít ice fished before or needs some instruction to get started in the activity. This is a kidís fishing event, but parents and guardians can also pick up a few tips to help them and their families get involved in this growing winter sport. Just make sure that your children are dressed properly for being outside because a cold child will not have much fun fishing in the outdoors. Itís always better to have more clothes with and on then not enough clothes. Being properly dressed is a key to having fun on the ice! Children will learn more and get ďintoĒ the sport if they are warm rather than worrying about their cold hands and feet.

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There are too many individuals in the club to mention that have helped make this event possible, but I know that Duffy Kopf will be out when its still dark drilling holes with his Jiffy machine. Duffy will drill dozens or even hundreds of ice holes for the kidís to fish out of later in the morning. Jim Pankrantz, Jim Kloth, Jim Kusuda, Paul Zoch, Jack Hurst, Karlette Schoen, Jeff Wydeven, Eric Olson, Tom Raschke, Don Hammes, and Tom Klein are a few of the club members who will be there to help make this kidís ice outing another successful event and help introduce more children to ice fishing. Like I said, talk to any club member and see what a great group of fishers the Yahara Fishing Club are and hopefully you might like to join this great organization.

This Saturday, the first 300 kids age 14 years and under will receive a free ice rod/reel combo and a bucket to carry their gear and to sit on while fishing. There will also be other give-a-ways, free live bait, and a free lunch with hot chocolate. Some of the generous sponsors include; Jiffy Ice Drills, HT Fishing, D and S Bait, Gollon Bait, and the Rob Regel Memorial Fund.

Letís hope that the milder weather this week doesnít hurt the solid ice that we now have. A nice sunny or cloudy day with normal temperatures in the 20ís and low 30ís would be great and if properly dressed the kids should be fine. Itís great to see the smiles when the children catch their first fish! This is a great family event with the opportunity to find an outdoor activity to engage in for years with little if any cost. The gear needed is free, the food is free, and most of all youíll meet a great group of people in the Yahara Fishing Club who gladly give up their own free time to help and instruct you and your children in ice fishing. All you have to do is show up this Saturday at Brittingham Park and have the kids properly dressed for a morning of ice fishing!

The following weekend, Jim Kloth and friends are reviving the ďold ice fishing jamboreeĒ that was held on area lakes for years. The Yahara Fishing Club is sponsoring this ice fishing derby on January 19th at Lake Waubesa and based out of the Green Lantern Restaurant. The registration starts at 6:00 am and fishing can begin at 7:00 am with a $10.00 registration fee. The purpose of the event is to raise money for the Yahara Fishing Club kidís events throughout the year. Food specials will be served all day at the Green Lantern. There will be door prize tickets sold at $2.00 each or 3 tickets for $5.00. There have been some great prizes for the raffle donated by Jiffy, JB Lures, HT, AquaVu, Pure Fishing, Clam, and Nebulus. The awards are by weight with categories for walleye, pike, bass (both kinds), and the best 10 panfish (crappies, bluegills, and perch). First place winners will receive $75.00 and second place winners will get $25.00. There are cash awards for each species of fish. The largest panfish caught by a child under 12 years also will win a prize. The weigh-in will be at 2:00 pm and the raffle drawing will be at 3:00 pm and you must be present to win. This is an excellent opportunity to get out and ice fish with friends or family plus have a chance to win some excellent prizes. Iíll be there as the MC, so stop and say hi even if youíre not fishing. For any information call Jim Kloth at (608)-635-0116 or . Iíll give some more information in next weekís column or look at my website at . I hope to see many of you there!

Gary Engberg is a professional tournament angler, fishing guide, and writer. He began fishing tournaments in the early 1990ís and has fished the In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail (PWT), North American Walleye Association (NAWA), Masters Walleye Circuit (MWC), World Walleye Association (WWA), FLW, and Mercury Nationals in the years since. Gary has hosted the Outdoor Horizons radio show weekly for 14 years in Madison on WTDY 1670 AM and WTDY 106.7 FM Saturdays at 8:05 am. and is also a correspondent for the Wisconsin State Journal for the last 12 years. Visit for more from Gary Engberg.

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