- Associated Press - Thursday, January 7, 2016

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - More than 500 two-person teams will drill into the frozen Missouri River and drop their lines this weekend for one of South Dakota’s largest winter fishing competitions.

Mild early winter conditions had jeopardized this year’s Mobridge Ice Fishing Tournament, which offers about $85,000 in prizes. But temperatures have since dipped, and the Mobridge Chamber of Commerce’s tourism committee voted Tuesday to press forward with Saturday’s 15th annual event after gathering ice reports and talking to anglers.

Many of the out-of-state anglers come from North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska, but some travel in from as far away as California and Tennessee, said Lindsay Scott, the chamber’s executive director.

The annual event kicks off Thursday and Friday with the Ice Fishing Expo at the Scherr-Howe Events Center, and the 525 teams must attend a rules meeting on Friday evening.

“We launch at 9 a.m. on Saturday, and then we have weigh-in from 4 to 7 (p.m.),” Scott said.

The ice conditions have led to a few changes and warnings: Anglers should not use vehicles on the ice, as ice thickness reports vary from 3 inches to 10-12 inches, and those using all-terrain vehicles should be very cautious.

The tournament encompasses the Missouri River around Mobridge north to Leavenworth Monument and south to Swan Creek. The boundaries also reach into the Grand River, and the committee voted for this year’s tournament to extend up to the Highway 12 bridge instead of the Spurline Bridge. Anglers are advised to avoid areas under the bridges, as currents make the ice thickness deceiving.

Teams can fish a maximum of eight standard hook and lines with artificial bait or live bait. Each team will get to weigh in six fish - two that are 20 inches and over and four that are 14-20 inches. The fish must be presented in a bucket of fresh water.

After the weigh-ins, teams will gather back at the events center for prizes.


Follow Dirk Lammers on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ddlammers

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