KATIE ZERR: Committee made the right decision with tournament

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The Mobridge Tourism Committee made a tough decision this week to not endorse nor to give away any prizes for fish in connection with their annual ice fishing tournament to be held this weekend.

It was made not without argument from some members who felt that it could mean losing anglers who would be angry they are not fishing. That, too, is a valid argument.

But in the big picture, the decision was the right one for the safety of those anglers.

Even with the turn to more seasonal temperatures in the last day or two, the ice has not had time to form thick enough to support vehicles.

Area fisherman, who have been watching the ice form on a daily basis, have a hand up on others as they know where the ice has had been stable for a number of days.

This has been a highly unusual year. It is hard to remember so many January days when no jacket was required, let alone hats and gloves.

The dry air and warm weather coupled with no snow to keep the cold air around for more than a day or so, has made for an enjoyable winter so far.

That is, unless you are an ice fisherman.

It is something many look forward to all year long. When the first glaze of ice forms on the bays of Lake Oahe, it is these anglers that we see with their poles in hand, cautiously testing the ice as they slid across the mirrored surface.

It is those fishermen who revel in facing the best Mother Nature can throw at them to be able to pull that golden-eyed beauty through the ice. Nothing is better tasting than fresh walleye that has just come from the frigid waters of Oahe.

It might be an element of danger that drives the urge to be on the ice as soon as it forms. It might just be the love of the sport that drives them to wander out onto the ice even though they know it might not be ready for the season.

There is good ice out there. Anglers are having great luck this year when they have been out. Some veteran anglers are saying there just hasn’t been enough cold weather to make the ice safe enough for them to feel comfortable.

A scattering of anglers on the ice might be just fine, but 900 anglers, with equipment, on ice that has formed in less-than-ideal conditions is a factor that could cause problems.

Yes, the tournament might take a hit, but not enough to do permanent damage. It is a well-run, fun tournament at which the anglers have a great time and have a good chance to win prizes they will use for a long time.

With $150,000 in prizes up for grabs and a pretty good chance at winning one or more of them, anglers are still making the trip to Mobridge if the comments on the Mobridge Outdoors website are any indication. The chance at winning the big prizes, including two ATVs and three lodge type ice shacks should be enough to bring these guys into town for a couple of days.

Organizers are saying the most of those registered for the tournament are understanding, but there have been some grumblings about having to make the trip to Mobridge to be eligible for prizes. There are always going to be those who think having their way is the only way.

The committee made the right decision. Taking everything into consideration, the safety of those who come to Mobridge to enjoy what Lake Oahe provides should always be first and foremost in the minds of organizers.

For those who don’t live here, they just don’t understand the moods of the Might Mo. It isn’t safe to send them out there en masse.

– Katie Zerr –

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