West Yellowstone will again host a North American Ice Fishing Circuit National Qualifier from Jan. 12-14.
The qualifier — an ice fishing tournament — takes place on Sunday and is open to any two-person team. Teams can register up to 6 p.m. at the Saturday night reception and rules meeting.
The tournament is located on Hebgen Lake. Kirkwood Resort & Marina is the location for the tournament starting point and Kid’s Ice Fishing Camp.
Throughout the two days preceding the tournament there are many educational opportunities. These activities are free and open to the public.
Friday night kicks-off with a gathering with a chance to meet local anglers familiar with Hebgen Lake, along with nationally ranked ice fishermen. A social hour and informal introductory information for people new to ice fishing — and networking with experienced friends who love to ice fish — starts at 5 p.m. at West Yellowstone Holiday Inn Conference Center (315 Yellowstone Ave.). From there, people go in groups with a pro-fisherman to another local restaurant/tavern to “talk ice fishing” over dinner, where “Ice Fishermen Specials” will be available for purchase. These group discussions, which are open to the public, are geared toward educating fishers to the world of tournament ice fishing.
Starting around 8 a.m. Saturday, pro-staff and representatives from ice fishing product companies will be demonstrating the latest techniques and equipment on Hebgen Lake. Meet them at the Kirkwood Marina to try out the newest ways to catch fish through the ice.
One of the most popular activities of the weekend is the free NAIFC Kid’s Free Ice Fishing Camp on Saturday, Jan. 13, at Kirkwood Resort. All children can participate, along with family members, regardless of age.
The camp will start with classroom instruction and a demonstration at the Holiday Inn Conference Center at 10 a.m. and then lunch and on-ice fishing experience at Kirkwood Resort starting at 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. The classroom instruction and demonstration will cover ice fishing equipment, techniques, safety, conservation and environmental stewardship. Before leaving, all children who participate also will receive a complimentary ice rod and tackle.
On Sunday, the NAIFC will conduct the Hebgen Lake Qualifier with two-person teams fishing from approximately 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. for thousands of dollars in cash and prizes. At 3 p.m. the NAIFC Tournament weigh-in will be conducted at the Holiday Inn Conference Center. Cash and prizes will be awarded to the top teams. The top 10 finishing teams also receive an invitation to the NAIFC National/North American Championship to be held next December.
Saturday and Sunday children and their families can also enjoy activities like snowshoeing, M120 children's snowmobile rides, live raptor programs from the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center, s’mores, sledding and skating for free during the Kids’N’Snow Weekend.
For more information go to www.westyellowstonemticefishing.com. To enter an NAIFC qualifier please go to www.naifc.com or call Kathy Roberts at 320-252-0428. For information on lodging and other winter activities go to www.DestinationYellowstone.com or contact the West Yellowstone Visitor Center at 406-646-7701.