As temperatures dip below freezing, many are itching to go ice fishing and this year, a new program aimed to help young anglers compete will heat up one of Minnesota's favorite frosty pastimes.
Never wanting to miss a chance to cast out a line, the Ringer family tries to reel in fish all year long.
"I like catching them and holding them," said 5-year-old Jake.
A lot of kids get a big kick out of getting a bite, and that's why Jake's dad, Kolt Ringer, co-founded The American Anglers League about a year ago in the hopes that more kids will get hooked on the sport. His 3 kids, all under 10 years old, are already avid anglers.
"In about 2 months, this bay will be covered in fish houses," Ringer predicted, "and 9 out of 10 of them have kids running around."
After a few successful day events, this winter the league is now launching Minnesota's first Youth Ice Fishing Season.
"In the short sense, it's like little league for fishing," Ringer explained. "It really hit me one day. I was looking at my son's tee-ball game and looking at the bench, and I said, 'I bet half these kids would rather be fishing right now.'"
Between Jan. 1 and March 1t, kids between the ages of 5 and 17 years old can compete by keeping a record of the fish they catch. The unique part is they can add points from any lake at any time.
"What we did is figure out a point system for fish so we could keep track and not have large-scale weigh-ins like traditional fishing tournaments," Ringer said.
Registration is $40 dollars per participant. Parents will be charged with entering points online using the honor system, and the league takes it from there. Ringer plans to organize teams based on what school district kids attend.
"There [are] a lot of great organizations doing a lot of great things for youth fishing. Usually, they are one-weekend deals. We are trying to fill that void and make something continuous that people can be a part of," Ringer said.
At the end of the season, they plan to celebrate with a tournament at Lake Minnetonka.
Registration already started on Nov. 1. Click here for more information: www.americananglerleagues.com
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