Ice-fishing tournament: Recognize the military — and remember your cleats

Tackle Terry Tuma, right, will be manning the Hole of Honor on Saturday during the Holes for Heroes ice-fishing tournament.

With the big day drawing near, Fishing for Life’s eighth annual Holes for Heroes ice-fishing tournament appears to be gaining traction among military and metro ice-fishing types.

Traction, too, will be paramount come tournament day.

Tom Goodrich, Fishing for Life executive director, said he’s expecting 700 to 1,200 participants Saturday on Medicine Lake in Plymouth. But with little to no snow cover, tournament organizers are hoping participants will come prepared for slick conditions.

“I just came off the ice and it is very slick. There is literally no snow cover and the ice is really slippery. Cleats will be a must,” Brenda Fromm of Fishing for Life said in an email to Outdoor News on Tuesday.

“Bring ice cleats,” Goodrich stressed Thursday.

Although snow has been a rarity in the Twin Cities metro area this winter, a recent cold snap has helped the cause — Goodrich reported 16 inches of ice in most spots when organizers measured last week, which was considerably warmer than what the metro has seen this week.

“We were not making ice, but we were not losing it either. This recent cold has firmed up ice and we will have a 9,000-pound house (21-foot Ice Castle) on the lake,” Goodrich said. “We will limit driving to the extent we can — we have plenty of parking off (U.S. Highway) 169/the Plymouth exit, too, with shuttle service to the fishing spot. The spot is close to shore, too — we hope to make this a primarily sunfish/perch spot.”

“Parking on the ice is prohibited for tournament participants as part of the tournament rules,” Fromm added. “We have shuttles that will bring participants out from the parking area.”

Entry for a single ice-fishing hole is $10 in advance (online by 6 p.m. Friday at and $15 at the site the day of the tournament. Second holes are available for an additional $10 ($5 for military types and their family members; their first holes are free). Holes will be drilled before the tournament and volunteers will be on hand to cut additional holes, if needed.

Goodrich said using fish-finding radar is OK, and shelters, too, although Saturday looks like it will be the warmest day of the next week-plus, with a high of 34 degrees. Goodrich added that bait will be on sale at Harty’s Boat Works, which fronts the tournament site (1920 E. Medicine Lake Blvd. in Plymouth for those of you who might want to use GPS to access a parking area there). Ice-fishing equipment is available for use while supplies last, Goodrich said.

The tournament runs from 1-4 p.m, and Goodrich recommends arriving by noon or so to deal with registration and check-in amid the crowds. More than $5,000 in prizes will be given for the largest fish, smallest fish, most fish of one species and more, and Goodrich noted that the entire lake will be open to the competition. Among the species of fish found in the 885-acre fishery are crappies, sunfish, perch, walleye and northern pike.

Deployed military personnel will also have the opportunity to enjoy the event with their family via simulcast at the Hole of Honor. This year’s host and expert guide is frequent Outdoor News contributor Tackle Terry Tuma, who will be manning the Hole of Honor, ready to lend a hand and offer fishing tips.

Proceeds from the event will support the General Colin Powell Leadership Academy for Youth in Minneapolis. A second Holes for Heroes event is scheduled Feb. 11 on White Bear Lake.

For more information, email or register at

Categories: Ice Fishing, News

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