Social time on the ice

HENDRICKS – The wind blew some of the light snowfall around Saturday morning as ice fishing enthusiasts of all ages pulled their fish houses onto to Lake Hendricks and started setting up for the annual fishing derby.

But it was great weather for ice fishing, said members of the Lake Hendricks Improvement Association

“The weather is perfect,” said Ben Gates. “The fish bite better.”

Lake Hendricks Improvement Association member Dennis Johnson said the money raised goes toward various projects, which includes lighting for the lake access and buffer strips. But the main upcoming project is the wetland restoration at the inlet, Johnson said.

“We’re trying to raise money to start on it this summer,” Johnson said.

Jason and Carol Overby of Ghent and their two kids, Tanner and Madison, were enjoying a “family fun day” on the ice. Jason Overby said he and Madison had taken part in the derby in the past, but this year, the entire family decided to join in. Carol Overby stayed in the pop-up fish house, while Jason Overby and the kids checked on things outside.

Jason Overby said they haven’t caught too many fish in the event.

“We ran a walleye and a perch,” Jason Overby said.

But the derby was more about being with the family for the Overbys. Madison and Tanner enjoyed their time laughing and playing, as Madison made a snow angel on the ice.

“The fishing part is not quite as serious,” Jason Overby said.

Three generations of Breidenbachs from Sioux Falls, S.D. – Mike, his son Chad, and Chad’s two sons, Alex and Grant, relaxed as they waited for the fish to bite. Mike Breidenbach said the derby is a great fundraiser for the lake association, even if not a whole lot of fish are caught during the day. Chad Breidenbach said the fishing was going “slow.”

“It’s more of a social experience,” Mike Breidenbach said. “It’s a nice event, even it it’s a little chilly.”

A few fish were caught by 12:45 p.m., which included a couple of walleyes, two Northern, two perch and a crappie. Wyatt Digre of Hendricks had a big grin on his face as he brought in his fish to be weighed.

“It was so cool,” Digre said about catching the fish.

A few minutes later, Julie Nygaard of Hendricks brought in her Northern to be weighed. Her husband, Chuck, who belongs to the lake association, did the honors.

At the end of the derby, the fish are then returned to the lake, said lake association member Tom Landmark. He said that more than 300 come out for the derby.

“This is one of our bigger turnouts,” Landmark said.