2019 WIFA WISCONSIN STATE HIGH SCHOOL ICE FISHING CHAMPIONSHIP
Location: Pool 7 and Pool 8 of Mississippi River
Host Chamber of Commerce: Explore La Crosse
February 15th - Pre-Fishing till Sunset
Friday 3:30-5:00 pm- Registration at La Crosse Center
February 16th - Tournament 7:30am till 2:30pm
NO ICE ACCESS UNTIL 6:30am Feb 16th
Friday Night Mixer & Tournament Weigh-In Headquarters:
La Crosse Center, 300 Harborview Plaza, La Crosse, WI
**It is your team's responsibility to know and uphold all tournament rules**
Fish: Total Length of 40 Fish Bag: 10 Perch, 10 Crappie, 10 Bluegill, 5 Northern Pike, 5 Bass (Smallmouth or Largemouth)
ROUND FISH DOWN TO NEAREST 1/4"
Friday Night Mixer: Awards, Food, Prizes, for coaches, students, and team helpers.
3:30 to 5:00pm Registration with Rules Presentation to Follow
Make certain your team is equipped with the RAPALA 60" Magnum Folding Ruler, which is the Official Ruler of the WIFA State Championships. No other measuring devices will be accepted.
There will be a limited quantity of rulers available for purchase at the Friday Night Mixer and Rules Meeting at the La Crosse Center.
2018 WIFA HIGH SCHOOL STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
Minocqua Provides Perfect Backdrop for 2017-2018 WIFA State Championship
Over the past four years high school ice fishing has exploded onto the landscape and culture of Wisconsin. More than 90 teams have formed, and schools are contributing to local environmental projects, children’s fishing outings and having a lot of fun ice fishing as well. This year, the Minocqua Chamber of Commerce graciously hosted the WIFA state tournament with more than 700 anglers from 80 schools competing for the title. The weather was fantastic, and the Minocqua Chain provided the perfect weekend for high school fishing.
Earning the title of “State Champs” is a difficult task, as the recipe for success in most tournaments involves a consistent limit-and-last mantra; where catching a limit of each species is a necessity. Teams earn positions in the final standings based upon combined length in total inches of gamefish plus panfish. (5 Northern Pike, 5 bass and 1 Walleye plus the combined average of 5 Bluegill, 5 Crappie and 5 Perch). The teams that limit out or come close, are usually found at the top of the leaderboard on tournament day. 2018 was no different.
In the last three years Wisconsin Rapids CO-OP has created a dynasty on the ice, capturing state titles on the Chetek Chain, Shawano Lake and the Red Cedar Chain. With consistent effort and execution on tournament day, they have become a dominant program. State championships however, are not won just by showing up on tournament day and finding a lucky spot or simply by chance. Practice and pre-fishing all season long leads up to a successful tournament. Wisconsin Rapids’ resume of success was evident even before this year’s state tournament began, with Austin Stankowski taking home WIFA Angler of the Year honors by catching 18 fish in the master angler category. Congratulations Austin! The collection of state championship trophies resting on their table at the Friday night pre tournament meeting reminded everyone that overthrowing the champ isn’t an easy task.
Tournament day at 5:00 AM was chilly, and anglers lined up at the many access points on the Minocqua Chain and Lake Tomahawk for the official take off. Teams were allowed to drill holes in advance and identify the areas they planned to fish during the tournament. With more than 700 anglers on the ice, some locations would see heavy traffic by vehicle, UTV, sled and foot. One of those locations was Stacks Bay on the East end on Minocqua, where ultimately many of the teams from the top ten ending up fishing. With tip ups scattered and students hole hopping in search of active fish, Stacks Bay was busy with people fishing but also just as busy with people catching. By mid morning it was evident Stacks Bay was the place to be with most of the teams fishing there limiting out on panfish, Northern Pike and even Walleye. The wildcard in this tournament would turn out to be bass, and teams catching them would separate themselves from the rest of the field.
On the north side of Minocqua several teams were also catching fish. One of those was Neenah, targeting bass in shallow weeds, catching four Largemouth jigging. West DePere was also in the area targeting panfish, eventually bringing in 101.76 converted inches of gills, crappie and perch, the highest panfish total of any team in the tournament!
Back in Stacks Bay the fish catching continued with Rapids, Kettle Moraine, Neenah and several other teams all consistently catching fish and unknowingly starting to pull away from the rest of the field.
As the tournament competition hours began to wain and teams were due back at Torpy Park in downtown Minocqua, several teams like Burlington were able to get that last minute flurry of flags to help move them up the leaderboard. When teams arrived at Torpy, the WIFA crew had assembled an impressive tournament headquarters with a stage and tents allowing anglers and coaches to ease through the weigh in lines, weighing their panfish and confirming their gamefish totals.
Teams headed to the stage and were interviewed by WIFA president and tournament MC Wendy Dallmann, providing kids the opportunity to share about their day on the ice. Always sporting a great stage presence, Dallmann brings an exciting dynamic to the weigh in where teams with high totals were held back until the end, adding to the drama of the weigh in and the eventual crowning of the next state champion.
The top ten was loaded with teams that have consistently fished well in events all over the state this year, including Barron (10th), DC Everest (9th), Fondy Ledgers (8th), Kettle Moraine Gold (7th) and Burlington (6th). Kettle Moraine Blue added a second team into the top ten with a 5th place finish, and local favorite Lakeland Union 1 landed near the top in 4th. Union’s combined total inches of 223.135 marked a distinct break in the standings, with the top four all accumulating over 200 total inches. Three Lakes/Phelps had a great day on the ice earning them 3rd place with a total of 234.62 inches, and for the second straight year Wisconsin Rapids and Neenah would be at the top of the leaderboard. Rapids finished in 2nd with 242.07 and with MC Dallmann’s announcement “And new State Champion…” it was official, Neenah had earned the title with 269.75 inches.
Teams were gracious on stage, regardless of their final place, recognizing the efforts of coaches, parents and teammates, including the impact they have had in their schools and in their communities.
Although competition is a part of the tournament weekend, the vast majority of high school fishing teams across the Badger state make an even bigger impact off the ice. Teams host kids’ fishing clinics, coordinate with local agencies to conduct environmental projects and volunteer at various fishing events, truly embodying the spirit and pulse of WIFA.
Congratulations to Neenah High School and to all of the teams competing in the 2018 WIFA state tournament! Thank you WIFA for once again providing students from Wisconsin a chance to enjoy the sport they love and share that love of fishing with others. See you in 2019!
PAST STATE CHAMPIOINS
2018 - Minocqua Chain
Neenah High School
2017 - Red Cedar Chain
Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High School
2016 - Shawano Lake
Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High School
2015 - Chetek Chain O' Lakes
Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High School
2014 - Lake Winnebago System
Fond du Lac High School
2013 - Lake Winnebago System
New Holstein High School