Ice Fishing Derby Draws Hundreds to Chicago Area

Nearly 450 fishermen flocked to the 10th annual LVVA Ice Fishing Derby on Bangs Lake in north suburban Wauconda earlier this month.

The catch-and-release ice fishing competition raises money for organizations and programs benefitting U.S. military veterans.

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“Ice fishing is great – it’s not popular with everyone,” said Ryan Jacobsen, the event’s co-founder. “There’s a certain person that wants to go and sit on ice and maybe get a little cold.”

This year’s event was postponed twice due to the erratic wintry weather. It took place on March 2, with temperatures hovering around freezing.

Ice is generally safe to walk on if it’s at least 4 inches thick. The ice on Bang’s Lake measured about 10 to 12 inches in width – plenty thick for people, snowmobiles and even vehicles.

“I love it – I think it’s so cool to be out on the lake,” said Sarah Evans, who was ice fishing with her husband Jamie. “I have a huge fear of water, but for some reason, I find ice fishing calming. I don’t know why.”

Awards were handed out for biggest fish caught based on species – including a northern pike that measured more than 37 inches long.

Jacobsen said after factoring operating expenses for the event, this year’s ice-fishing derby raised about $10,000 for the nonprofit TLS Veterans Outdoors.

Follow Evan Garcia on Twitter: @EvanRGarcia

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