Gear up anglers - TUT ice fishing contest on the horizon
With just over two weeks to go to the start of Michigan's largest winter festival, the weather conditions are looking promising for one of Tip-Up Town's oldest and most popular activities - the ice fishing contest.
"Being relatively shallow, Houghton Lake freezes quickly and it's not unusual to have 12 inches or more of solid ice covering the lake by the time Tip-Up Town rolls around," said Lyman Foster, owner of Lyman's on the Lake and a board member of the Houghton Lake Chamber of Commerce. "There is a great variety of fish in the lake - northern pike, walleye, perch, crappie, bluegill - something for all fishermen, young and old. And the festival got its name from the equipment that ice fishermen like to use while enjoying the sport - tip-ups. In fact, Houghton Lake grows into a bigger town in the winter, thanks to all the shanties parked out on the ice."
And what do you get when you combine great fishing conditions and Tip-Up Town? Well, for one thing you get the TUT Ice Fishing Contests, for adults and children.
"It's great fun to stand and watch the official fish board¿ as the fish start to come in and you wonder which fish will be the winner. Or, if quantity is more your style, plan on entering the largest catch contest, with two categories - walleye/ northern pike or the pan fish combo class with $50 first prizes," said Ivan Bassett, volunteer organizer of the TUT Ice Fishing Contest.
Cash prizes will be given out in both the individual and largest catch categories for adults. Plus, for every entry into the contest, anglers get a chance to win $100 in the grand draw, held once each weekend. Each of the six individual catch classes (northern pike, walleye, perch, crappie, rock bass and bluegill/sunfish) offer a $25 first prize for the largest fish brought in by 1 p.m. on both Sundays.
Younger anglers (14 and under) get a chance to compete in their own contest run both Saturdays. There are prizes for the largest catch in the same individual classes as the main fishing contest.
All that is required for entry into either fishing contest is 2008 Tip-Up Town USA badge, available for $5.
Another way to turn fishing into prizes is to catch "Wally the Walleye" or any of his friends. In fact, if you go fishing on Houghton Lake, Higgins Lake, or Lake St. Helen any time between now and March 15th and are skillful enough to pull out one of the 19 specially tagged fish (including walleye, blue gill, pike, bass, crappie or perch) you will get a chance to win $25,000 and a minimum of $1,000 at the grand draw on April 1st.