The PHS Ice Fishing team competes in the virtual state tournament

The PHS Ice Fishing team competes in the virtual state tournament

Written by Joe Coombe

The Prescott Ice Fishing Team competed in a “virtual” state tournament on Saturday instead of competing at the previously scheduled location in La Crosse, an event that was canceled in the wake of poor ice conditions due to warm weather this winter.

Originally, there were 86 teams from across the state who were planning to compete in lacrosse with an expected attendance of 1,000 people including parents and coaches. Instead, teams were able to fish a lake of their choice on either Saturday or Sunday the previous weekend or Saturday or Sunday the coming weekend.

Ice fishing team leader Jason Brazal, a member of the board of directors of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Fishing Association (WIFA), says this decision was made in an effort to make sure everyone has a chance to get out and fish, though whether or not that will help remains unclear. . Sharing the hurt remains to be seen.

“One of the things we’ve done as a board is open this up for two weekends instead of just one day to give teams more flexibility, especially if they’re waiting for good ice now,” Brazal said. “I certainly hope that the teams that waited until next weekend won’t regret it, because with the warm-ups, the temperatures will be above freezing all week.”

Unfortunately, this is the second year in a row that UEFA has had to cancel the tournament due to icy conditions.

“We’ve done this before in the past where we’ve just said it’s a virtual state tournament. You fish whatever lake or lakes you want. It’s still the same rules. Twelve kids max on a team, and coaches can’t do anything except dig holes and haul gear,” he said. Brazal: “The kids have to do everything, set up the tips, catch the fish, but then the coaches have to photograph the fish because we want it done right.”

In addition to these few rules, tournaments generally have a target species that each team is trying to catch with a bag limit, which basically means each team will submit photos of five pike, five bass, and five walleye to go along with their 10 photos. . Top Bluegills, Top 10 Crappie, Top 10 Perch.

Each competition is also captured and released. All fish are classified by length, which explains the need for photography and no need to weigh them. Fortunately, these rules also help to host the event virtually.

And so, with the option of selection open to them, Prescott’s side decided to go ahead as planned and exit this weekend rather than wait. They settled on the Webster area as a fishing location and headed out a day early to scout the lakes before competing on Saturday.

“The students were already out of school and wanted out of school. “The parents cleared their calendars assuming he would be in lacrosse, and I have to be aware of their schedules because this program was made possible by the volunteers, who have been amazing from day one,” Brazal said. “No one pays to do this. It’s 100 percent volunteer, so when parents and their busy schedules are on the calendar at the beginning of the season, we’ll make February 17 the state championship, we’ll keep it from that way.”

Brazal says the community support for the club has been amazing, and goes beyond just parents volunteering. They’ve had equipment and even ice shanties donated to them over the years, so although most kids come equipped with their own gear, the team is able to make sure everyone has what they need.

As for how widespread ice fishing teams are across the state, WIFA is relatively new, having been formed just nine years ago in 2015. This was also the Prescott ice fishing team’s first year. Although the actual fishing program began earlier as a bass club offered through high school starting in 2011, this original club evolved when WIFA was formed.

However, Brazal said his goal as a board member for their program lies more in the roots of bass fishing, where he would like to see it become more than just a weather-dependent club that may only have six outings a winter. He wants to see young hunters from all over the state able to experience the joy of hunting as a hobby for more than just a short time each winter.

“I think from here, I would like to see our organization make a better effort to do open water events,” Brazal said. “I know it’s hard because you need boats, and you can fit fewer people in the boat than you can.” Can on ice. So, yes, you have to have plenty of boats available to take the team out on the water, but I like to think that the fishing team doesn’t have to take a break from say February 20th until the following November. Because that’s almost what some schools have to do. If they’re just an ice fishing team, they have two months, and it can be a six-week season if they’re lucky.

Although it is limited by seasonal restrictions and fickle weather patterns, Brazal says the sport continues to grow every winter.

“As far as ice fishing, I think what you’ll find is we haven’t reached that plateau yet,” Brazal said. “We are consistently receiving five to 10 new schools each year, and that has been consistent over the past six or seven years. So, we will still be hoping to see those additional five to 10 schools join the ice fishing ranks each year and see where it leads us.” that.

The Prescott Ice Fishing Team is no longer affiliated with the PHS athletics department, but if any of the young anglers would like to join, Brazzale says they can contact Kyle Schmidt at the high school for more information.

(Tags for translation)Prescott Ice Fishing Team

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