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Saving The Lake

Inaugural Yellow Bass Bash Tourney Successful

January 24, 2017
by Dan Voigt , Emmetsburg News

ive Island Lake has been undergoing dredging for many years, with the long-stated goal of preserving and protecting a natural treasure. While efforts continue to address runoff into the lake, there are other threats to the health of the lake, such as rising populations of rough fish.

Past efforts at gillnetting have removed large numbers of carp and sheepshead from the waters of Five Island, but one other rough fish remained, growing in numbers - until this past weekend.

"There has just been an overabundance of Yellow Bass in the lake for a long time," explained Steve Carney, an Emmetsburg man who organized this past weekend's Yellow Bass Bash, an ice fishing tournament on the local lake. "I don't really know who introduced them, but they eat everything in the lake. They're a real threat to other fish, and there's no limit on them."

Article Photos

THEY’RE?BITING! - Jimmy Geelan and Doug Cook were hard at work Saturday as they fished in the Inaugural Yellow Bass Bash tournament on Five Island Lake. The Algona anglers set up near the dredge pipe on the north bay and pulled 641 of the rough fish from the waters of the lake to win the tournament, but more importantly, help protect Five Island Lake from the overabundance of Yellow Bass. -- Submitted photo

One important rule of the tournament required every angler to return any fish, other than Yellow Bass, back into the waters of Five Island Lake. Patterned after similar tournaments on lakes such as Lake Oahe at Mobridge, SD and Clear Lake, Iowa, Carney set up his tournament for two-person teams of all ages and secured sponsorships and prize donations from local area businesses and supporters. Among those donations was a special gift.

"Sandy Schreiber made a donation of $100 in memory of Jerry Schreiber, and we decided to use that donation as a raffle prize for youth entered in the tournament,"?Carney explained. "In talking with Sandy, we decided that prize would be a great way to encourage a youth to enjoy ice fishing like Jerry did."

Carney set up a Facebook page to help publicize the event and to accept advance registrations. Buoyed by reports of fishing success for Yellow Bass on the lake, entries began to come in. Those reports of fishing success in the weeks and days leading up to the tournament provided quite an eye-opener as to the degree of infestation of the Yellow Bass in Five Island.

"In the last week leading up to today, groups have taken some 2,000 Yellow Bass out of this lake," Carney said on Saturday morning during registrations for the tournament. "I'm pretty sure there's plenty more fish in the lake to be caught."

As anglers checked in at the registration desk at The Shores, they were given maps of Five Island lake, which identified locations were pre-fishing had found Yellow Bass. Locations included near First Island on the south bay, the Narrows and near the spillway dam in the north bay.

With a shotgun start at 9 a.m., the contest lasted until 2 p.m. Saturday. ATV's and vehicles could be seen across the lake along with portable ice houses as anglers of all ages did their best to decrease the Yellow Bass populations.

When contest ended, first place honors would go to the team of Doug Cook and Jimmy Geelan of Algona, who brought 641 Yellow Bass to the counting station to win the top prize of $1,140 for their efforts.

Second place went to Kyle Dean and Jake Simpson, who caught 507 fish to earn $855.

Finishing third were Aaron Hill and Brandon Isebrand, who pulled 414 Yellow Bass and pocketed $570 in prize money.

Fourth place went to the team of Kyle Malm and Josh Hansen, who caught 327 fish and earned $285 in prize money.

Between the top four teams, a total of 1,889 Yellow Bass were taken from the lake in five-hour tournament on Saturday.

For the special youth raffle, young Drake Mehan, the son of Brent and Steph Mehan of Emmetsburg, celebrated his birthday in style by catching Yellow Bass and winning the Youth Raffle as well.

The Adult cash raffle winner was Lyle Schellenberg, who received $990, but donated most of the proceeds back to the tournament for next year.

David Skou of Sioux City was the big winner of the door prize, an ION?Ice Auger.

"We had entrants from all over the area in Northwest Iowa," Carney said. "Sioux City, Eastern Iowa, Minnesota, all over. We've already started planning for next year, and I've been talking with Vicky here at The Shores about expanding on the tournament for next year, maybe having a Pre-tournament banquet out here on the Friday night before the tournament."

Carney paused for a moment. "I'd like to see if we couldn't get some vendors to come in and show off their products in an expo-type thing, maybe have some demonstrations and talks about fishing technique, and then an awards presentation too."

While the tournament brought over 120 anglers to the lake to remove the rough fish, it also provided a noticeable economic effect for the community.

"This has been really good for the whole community,"?Carney noted. "People have been coming into town last night and today, staying in the motels, eating at restaurants, buying gas. It's affected a lot of businesses and that's a good thing for the community."

"It was a long day, a lot of work, but it's worth it to help save the lake," Carney concluded.



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