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Tournament Draws Hundreds Without Ice Fishing

January 16, 2012, 10:00 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Tournament Draws Hundreds Without Ice Fishing
MOBRIDGE, SD - Organizers of the state's biggest ice fishing tournament are optimistic looking forward despite having to hold this year's event without ice fishing.

The annual Mobridge event has wrapped up and feedback has its organizers confident the tournament will actually expand next year. Only ten teams out of 450 didn't show up.

Organizers plan to expand the number of teams to 500 next year and increase the number of prizes by about $10,000.

Business owners in Mobridge enjoy extra traffic during the city's tournament. This year, some saw even more.

"Business was great," local bar manager Tom Keller said.

"Business was very good for us over the ice fishing contest; we had a great night on Saturday night," restaurant owner Kevin Wiebusch said.

And if organizers are right, those numbers shouldn't shrink next year. As anglers made their way to Mobridge, about 80 percent of them still went ice fishing despite it not being required for the tournament. One group of anglers cut a hole in the ice and held a polar plunge.

"Everybody that was in the tournament was already asking how they get in next year. So, we're expecting a really good turnout again next year," Dawn Konald said.

Konald serves on the tourism committee. She's not only confident anglers will fill the 500 two-person team slots, she thinks more than that will want to participate.

"We really want to make it more fair for everybody to have a chance to get in. So, we are looking at a lottery right now at this time," Konald said.

She joins others working to continue the event's momentum moving forward despite open water putting a damper on it this year.

"Good bunch of guys come to town and everybody seems to have a good time," Keller said.

"Looking forward to the next year and a bigger contest," Wiebusch said.

This year's tournament filled up in about 40 minutes and organizers had hundreds of people trying to enter after it closed as well. That is another reason they’re optimistic about next year.

The tournament will remain the second weekend of January given this year's warm temperatures this late into winter is not the norm.

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