SmallTownNews
Major ice fishing event set in the Turtle Mountains

By Logan Davis

Turtle Mountain Star of Rolla, North Dakota

Local anglers really know their ice and this weekend will be their chance to prove it.

Les Thomas of the Turtle Mountain Tourism Association and Kade Ferris of the Turtle Mountain Natural Resources are excited about the Turtle Mountain area hosting an international ice fishing event and a national reality show. This weekend begins the First annual North American Ice Fishing Circuit (NAIFC) Series National Qualifying Tournament on Jarvis Lake, January 20 to January 22.

The tournament's fishing hours are set from 8 am to 1 pm this coming Sunday and the species on the competition agenda will only be Bluegills and Perch. Ferris revealed that Jarvis Lake was stocked last year with 750,000 Bluegill and hundreds of thousands of Perch, so the lake has plenty of available catch in it. Thomas sees the NAIFC Turtle Mountain Qualifier as a step to even bigger fishing events as well as putting the Turtle Mountains "on the map" as a quality tourist destination.

"This is a real family-oriented international event and the long-range plan is to bring the finals here to the Turtle Mountains. This year the international finals are being held in a northern European country, but we have the tribe's natural resources department working with the state and national wildlife divisions to stock and enhance our lakes to prepare for that possibility," Thomas said.

Thomas also noted that the ice at Jarvis Lake is now 16 inches thick, but full-sized vehicles will not be allowed on the lake during the three-day family event. Only ATVs, snowmobiles and walking will be the modes of transportation allowed during the event. Thomas and other tournament organizers are asking for extreme safety precautions from any person utilizing an ATV or snowmobile since there will be many children on the lake most of the time.

Teams finishing in the Top 10 at the Turtle Mountain Qualifier will automatically advance to the December 14-16 NAIFC Championship, culminating in a 2012 North American Champion.

The Turtle Mountain Qualifying Tournament is open to the first 150 two-person teams that enter (no-age limit). Local fishermen should take note that it has been "locals," and not traveling teams that have won 10 out of the last 11 NAIFC Qualifying tournaments.

NAIFC tournaments are competitive in nature, but still considered family-oriented. Fishing boundaries are already set on Jarvis Lake and teams will drill their own holes to locate fish. Portable fish shelters are allowed with walking, ATVs and snowmobiles the modes of transportation.

Jack Baker is the President of NAIFC and has paid three visits to Jarvis Lake.

"I'm looking forward to it. Jarvis Lake has a lot of trophy Bluegills swimming under the ice there and when people hear about that, we're going to get lots of fishermen out there," stated Baker. "My first contact when this started out as an idea was with Glen Delorme of Minnewauken, North Dakota. Glen is originally from Belcourt and he got me in contact with his cousin, B J Delorme, who is a tribal councilman. From there, many people got involved right away."

The entire Tribal Council was very happy about being involved and that the Turtle Mountains and Jarvis Lake being the host of this big tournament, Baker stated.

"Your community and Tribe have a great fishery program on your reservation and the tribal leaders have helped support and develop some great facilities and stocking of fish up there. We just have to get the word out how good the lakes are in the Turtle Mountains and this is a great way for people all around the nation to get to know about it. For the NAIFC qualifier, it's open to any two-person team and there is no age limit. My daughter actually qualified for the national championship with me at age nine, so if any parent-child team wants in, they are welcome. Remember the majority of our qualifiers are won by the locals."

Accompanying the NAIFC to the Turtle Mountains this year will be the "Ice Men" reality TV program. Camera crews will be on site at Jarvis Lake prior to and during the tournament as they film the Ice Men teams preparing for and competing in the Turtle Mountain Qualifying Tournament.

The first two days of the Jarvis Lake NAIFC Qualifying Tournament will focus on education for both kids and adults. A "Friday Night Seminar" will be held to open the first day leading up to the Sunday tournament. The seni-inar is free to everyone and features a nationally-known speaker. After the keynote speaker, everyone will be invited to split into small groups with the Ice Men and other NAIFC Pro-staff to discuss fishing techniques in detail. There is probably no better way for any fishermen (experienced or not) to learn and share the many ways of ice fishing than these free seminars.

On Saturday, a free "Ice Camp for Kids" will be held first in a classroom setting. After the classes, the kids, parents and instructors will all go out cm the ice to use the equipment and receive "on-the-cold-spot" training. All kids in attendance will receive a free fishing rod from HT Enterprises.

In addition to the upcoming weekend of NAIFC events, the United States Ice Fishing Team will conduct a first-stage USA Team qualifier on Saturday afternoon starting at 1 p.m. Team USA Qualifying Tournament is a totally separate event from the NAIFC Qualifier and is open to any United States citizen at least 18 years or older. The Team USA event on Saturday represents a unique opportunity for local fishermen willing to represent their country on the world stage.

For more information on the NAIFC, Kids Ice Camp, Ice Men, Team USA, or to enter into the NAIFC qualifier, go to www.naifc.com or email jack.baker@naifc.com. To enter a NAIFC qualifier over the phone, call Kathy Roberts at 320-252-0428.

For any tourist information on the Turtle Mountain area and hotel availability, go to www.turtlemountains.org or call Turtle Mountain Tourism Director Leah McCloud at (701) 244-2400 at the Sky Dancer Casino Player Development Department.



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