WDAY: The News Leader

Published January 26, 2013, 05:33 PM

Devils Lake hosting popular North Dakota ice-fishing tournament

Devils Lake, ND (WDAZ TV) – 18,000 people. That's a lot to be on a lake, all at once.

By: Adam Ladwig, WDAZ, WDAZ Staff Reports, WDAZ

Devils Lake, ND (WDAZ TV) – 18,000 people. That's a lot to be on a lake, all at once.

People swarmed Devils Lake today, taking part in an ice-fishing tournament, that's likely the largest most of us have ever heard of.

Five thousand holes in the ice, each one potentially hiding a prize catch.

Jim Moe, Devils Lake Fire Chief: “The fish is just excellent right now and we're pretty excited around here.”

The annual Fire Department Fishing Tournament brings anglers with decades of experience.

Rodney Daringer, Long-Time Angler: “Probably about 30 years.”

And those picking up an ice fishing pole for the first time.

Casey Lee, First Time Ice Fishing: “I just wanted to be out here and try it.”

But everyone has the same goal.

Alisa Lee, First Time Ice Fishing: “Just catch anything. I don't care if it's big or small. I'd just like to catch a fish.”

The fire department sold 18,000 tickets to the tournament. Not everyone fishes, but they still scoop up tickets fast.

Daringer: “They're hard to find. You better get them as soon as they come out.”

The tournament raises more than $100,000 for the department. Anglers also have a chance to take home some goodies.

Bryson Burdick, Fishing in Third Tournament: “I try to win stuff but I don't get lucky.”

In a twist, the top prize, a pick-up, doesn't go to the biggest fish. That prize goes to the third largest walleye.

Daringer: “Third place walleye would be nice.”

But even if fishermen don't get lucky, they still say it's a perfect day to relax and fish.

Daringer: “For this time of the year it's about the nicest thing we can have for a fishing tournament.”

Ticket-holders are also eligible to win one of 150 prizes, ranging from gift cards to pick-up trucks, in a raffle tonight at the memorial building in Devils Lake.