This winter’s high temperatures are tough for winter sports enthusiasts including the organizers of South Dakota's largest ice fishing tournament.
Mobridge’s annual tournament will go on as planned, but there won't be any ice fishing. Because of the thin ice, the city’s tourism committee decided Thursday not to send anglers out onto it.
So anglers won't weigh in their fish for prizes. Mobridge will still host the event and draw for all the cash and prizes instead.
With fishermen out in boats on the open water near Mobridge, Thursday’s decision by the tourism committee has been a threat all winter. But it's still not one they wanted to make.
"I hate it that Mother Nature dealt the hand that they had to make this decision but I think they're making the right call," Jeff Jensen said.
Jenson is signed up for the tournament that's taking place next weekend made up of 450 two-person teams. He sat in on the meeting when tourism committee members made what they called a tough decision.
"Incredibly tough and as a committee and as a community we wanted to see those 900 people on the ice but it's just not safe. And that's our biggest responsibility to our anglers," committee member Jesse Konald said.
Ice fishing isn't banned in this area. In fact, there's ticker ice north of Mobridge and the committee even considered sending anglers up that direction for the tournament. But inevitably they decided against it.
Jensen can understand that call.
"There are places where you can still go ice fishing but to put 900 people out there for the whole day, it would have been a tough deal," Jensen said.
Still, he expects many will still fish Mobridge next weekend even though it won't count for anything in the tournament, whether they take to the ice or hop in a boat.
The tournament has been gaining popularity over the years. And this year the 450 team slots filled in about 40 minutes. Organizers don't expect this setback to affect that momentum moving forward.