The Mercer School senior class hosted its second annual Mercer School Senior Class Ice Fishing Tournament Jan. 12 on the Turtle Flambeau Flowage.
Contestants competed in four different categories – walleye, northern, crappie and perch – and had youth (10 and younger) and adult divisions.
The tournament, with festivities based at Fisherman’s Landing, boasted prizes, raffles and food.
The event got its start last school year, when Mercer juniors discussed what they wanted to do as a “fun and different” fundraiser for the community. The ice fishing tournament came out of that discussion.
Feb. 8, 2012 was the date of the inaugural tournament and it turned out to be one of the coldest days of the year, with below zero windchills.
This year, the tournament was held earlier in the winter in hope that the weather would be more cooperative. Interestingly, the day before the tournament was not cold, but icy conditions forced a school closure. The day of the tournament was warm – briefly.
The mercury topped out at about 40 degrees early that Saturday, but eventually dropped into the teens. Brutal winds accompanied the dropping temps, but enthusiastic ice anglers showed up anyway.
“We had a good turn out even though weather wasn’t ideal, but if weather was better it would have been more of a success because a lot of people who did buy tickets did not show up,” Breia Pfaller, senior class advisor, said.
About 100 tickets to the event were sold. One-hundred raffle tickets for a Jiffy ice auger (valued at $440) that the class bought were also sold. Among other items raffled were wooden barstools, a bench, a chair and two Packer jerseys.
Bill Boltz donated the stools, Northwoods Accents the bench, Hitch Exclusives the chair and Mike Huybrecht the jerseys.
The tournament saw some fish caught, too. The top three spots in each of the four categories won prizes.
It was Steve Altman leading the way in the walleye category with a 21-1⁄4-inch fish. Sueanne Kosidowski’s 20-incher took second place. Rounding out the top three was Wayne Peterson’s 19-1⁄2-incher.
Kai Hanson led the way in the northern category with a 27-1⁄2-inch fish, while Altman pulled in a 24-1⁄2-incher to take second. In the third spot was Mark Kirchoff with a 23-inch pike.
A 13-inch crappie gave Kirchoff the top spot in that category, with Randy Klopatek’s 12-1⁄2-incher securing second place. Jimmy Niehaus and Peterson each hooked 12-inchers to tie for third.
Topping the Perch division was Bill Niehaus with a 10-3⁄4-inch fish. The remaining two spots were a second-place tie between Klopatek and Vic Saeger. Both anglers landed 10-inch perch.
1. Steve Altman, 21-1⁄4 inches.
2. Sueanne Kosidowski, 20 inches.
3. Wayne Peterson, 19-1⁄2 inches.
1. Kai Hanson, 27-1⁄2 inches.
2. Steve Altman, 24-1⁄2 inches.
3. Mark Kirchoff, 23 inches.
1. Mark Kirchoff, 13 inches.
2. Randy Klopatek, 12-1⁄2 inches.
3. (Tie) Jimmy Niehaus, 12 inches; Wayne Peterson 12 inches.
1. Bill Niehaus, 10-3⁄4 inches.
2. (Tie) Randy Klopatek, 10 inches; Vic Saeger, 10 inches.
Kids 10 and under who fished in the tournament included Zacheri and Baylie Huybrecht, Chloe and Conner Brandt, Josh Klopatek, and Jenna.
The tournament raised $1,900 for the Mercer School seniors.
Craig Turk may be reached at email@example.com