Organizers of a major ice fishing tournament in South Dakota are trying to make the event accessible to more people.
Starting this week, you can enter a lottery to win a spot in the Mobridge Ice Fishing Tournament. Organizers had to make some quick changes so people have more than a sliver of a chance to win.
"It's an awesome tournament, something to see and to be part of," Randy Carlson said.
Carlson has participated in the tournament in the past so he's already signed up for the coming January event. To thank people for their loyalty, the organizing committee let previous participants sign up for the tournament's 500 spots first. Others could win one of the remaining spots through the lottery.
"This year we actually had, when everything was said and done, only five spots left for our lottery," said Haden Merkel, director of Mobridge Chamber of Commerce.
With hundreds expected to enter, chances to get in would be slim so organizers decided to increase the total prize amount to $185,000 and expand the tournament by 25 teams.
The tournament committee doesn’t expect to increase the number of teams allowed in future years, but those entering the tournament through the lottery won’t be guaranteed a future spot. So as any anglers with secured spots decide not to come back, the number of lottery positions will grow.
"We're going to hopefully get to the point where we have 450 spots that are always filled and are secured and 75 spots for the lottery so it's a little bit more fun for people to be able to get in and hope to come fish with us," Merkel said.
As a Mobridge resident, Carlson likes the expansion and is excited to see more people participate.
"It's nice to see all the people come to Mobridge and we're able to accommodate them. It's just a good all-around, fun tournament," Carlson said.
This will be the tournament’s fourteenth year. It’s grown from 50 total participants its first year. It passed the 200 mark in 2008 and has filled every year since 2010.
|2002||50 one-person teams|
|2003||50 two-person teams|
|2004||51 two-person teams|
|2005||86 two-person teams|
|2006||127 two-person teams|
|2007||148 two-person teams|
|2008||222 two-person teams|
|2009||395 two-person teams|
|2010||400 two-person teams|
|2011||450 two-person teams|
|2012||450 two-person teams|
|2013||500 two-person teams|
|2014||500 two-person teams|