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By LuAnn Schindler

The Jig's Up: Ice fishing tourney draws 41 teams


February 3, 2022

LuAnn Schindler | SAM

Master anglers • Nineteen participants display 24 trophies presented Sunday, at the conclusion of the Royal Volunteer Fire Department's annual ice fishing tournament. Spencer Strope, of Orchard, and Tanner Hart, of Clearwater, earned the top spot, catching 18.67 pounds of fish.

After a two-years hiatus from ice, the Royal Volunteer Fire Department ice fishing tournament returned with a large group of competitors. Forty-one teams entered the five-hour event, Sunday, at Grove Lake.

Royal Fire Chief Gary Ober said it's "great" to have a large number of teams participate and be back on the ice.

Now in its 39th year, Ober said the tournament hasn't been held nine times, either due to weather conditions or, more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event brought anglers from ages six to 78, to the family-friendly affair.

Six-year-old Ansley Williby received the Missy Hieter Eckmann trophy, awarded to the youngest female participant.

Archer Brandt, 11, was named the youngest male fisherman.

Royal's mayor, Max Hieter, received the trophy for being the oldest fisherman.

Traditionally, the event begins the Saturday evening prior to meeting at the fishing hole. Participants gather at the Royal Gymnasium for a dinner and calcutta.

Following Sunday's tournament, participants return to the gym, with each team's catches weighed and recorded.

Anglers caught a total of 256.94 pounds.

Spencer Strope, of Orchard and Tanner Hart, of Clearwater, caught 18.67 pounds of fish and claimed the top trophy.

Clay Curtis

On thick ice • Forty-one teams set out on Grove Lake on Sunday, in search of the perfect ice fishing spot. The Royal Volunteer Fire Department hosted its 39th annual tournament. Fishing began at 9 a.m. and at 2 p.m., anglers exited the ice and headed to the Royal gymnasium to weigh in catches of the day.

Other teams earning trophies included Brock Belik, Orchard and Justin Brandt, O'Neill, second, 18.13 pounds; Wade Frederick, Yankton and Cole Sokol, Verdigre, third, 14.06 pounds; Derek Thiele and Eric Allemang, Clearwater, fourth, 13.36 pounds; James Hoferer and Mike Hoferer, Creighton, fifth, 12.70 pounds; Warren Hoferer, Norfolk and Jeremiah Hoferer, Harrisburg, South Dakota, sixth, 11.90 pounds; Bryan Bittner, Niobrara and Paul Bailey, Norfolk, seventh, 11.89 pounds and Jeff Macke, Brunswick and Rick Brandt, Norfolk, eighth, 11.66 pounds.

Anglers could also enter their catches in a contest for the largest fish in one of five species categories.

Winners included Frederick, trout, .53 pounds; Bittner, blue gill, .78 pounds; Mike Hoferer, perch, .57 pounds; and Hart, bass, 3.64 pounds and crappie, 1.17 pounds.


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