By Steve Weisman
It’s been 10 years since I last fished a team (two person) ice fishing tournament on West Okoboji. During the 1990s and early 2000s, Dave Genz brought his Trap Attack to Emerson Bay on West Okoboji. They were well attended, and it was the goal of the teams to place in the top three and capture one of the coveted “piece-of-wood” plaques. Later as Ice Team came on the scene, this was a qualifier for its national championship. Since that time, tournaments have been held, but they have only been for individual placings, not for two person-teams.
Now on Sunday, January 12, 2014, a new team ice fishing tournament known as Team Extreme is coming to West Okoboji’s Emerson Bay.
Rod Woten, the Iowa Team Extreme Tournament Director, is excited to bring this opportunity back to northwest Iowa. A pro-staffer for several leading ice fishing manufacturers and a top placer in several Midwest ice fishing tournaments, says, “I’ve wanted to get a team circuit going here in Iowa for a long time. For the past year, I have been visiting with Gary Rehbein, one of the owners of Team Extreme about the idea of starting a team icing fishing circuit here in Iowa.”
Dream becomes reality
For 2014, Woten’s dream has become reality. Team Extreme has put together three divisions (Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa) with five qualifiers in each division. Teams can fish one qualifier or all five, whatever they want. An incentive to fish more than one qualifier is the chance to finish in the top 25 in a division and qualify for the Team Extreme National Championship on Lake Minnewaska near Glenwood, MN on March 29-30, 2014.
The team with the most points at the end of the year will be awarded the Team of the Year honors with the winners taking home cash, product and tournament credit for the next year’s events.
Woten remembers the earlier Trap Attacks and the competitors that came to fish Emerson Bay’s gin clear waters for its infamous huge bluegills. Woten has most recently fished as an individual in the Okoboji Hardwater Open, taking home top honors in 2010.
“The Okoboji Hardwater Open fishing area was only in Little Emerson Bay, which really limits what anglers can do. With Team Extreme, we have opened up the boundaries to include both Little Emerson and Big Emerson bays-all the way to the bar between Eagle and Pocahontas points.”
Woten sees this as both an opportunity and a challenge. “With this much area, there is a lot of area where the bluegills can be. What I have found over the years of competitive fishing is this: somebody will find them. Even on this year, when the bluegill bite has been slow on Emerson Bay, somebody will find them. I can remember other years when it was slow and bang…all of a sudden the day before the tournament, the bluegills were there!”
Team Extreme format
Registration and rules meeting will take place on Saturday evening, January 11 with check-in time set for 5 p.m. and the meeting beginning at 5:30 p.m. “It is important that at least one member of the team attends the rules meeting.”
Sunday begins with inspection at 7 a.m. “Our plans are to have the inspection take place on the ice in Little Emerson Bay. Take-off will be at 7:30 a.m. with the official start time at 8 a.m. Weigh-in will take place back at the take-off point at 2 p.m.”
Woten notes that anglers can use a variety of ways to get to their fishing spots. “Anglers can walk, use ATVs and snowmobiles, but cars and trucks are not allowed.”
Entry fee is $100 per team per tournament with each person paying a one-time $25 membership fee.
Payback at each tournament will be at 90 percent with the additional 10 percent held back for Team of the Year winners, Big Fish pot and Team Extreme National Championship payouts.
“I really hope that we can get a good turnout for the first Team Extreme Tournament in Iowa,” adds Woten.
The other four tournaments in the Iowa Team Extreme Division include:
- Big Creek Lake (Des Moines area) on Sunday, February 2
- 3 Mile Lake (Afton area) on Sunday, February 16
- Rock Creek Lake (Grinnell area) on Sunday, February 23
- Brushy Creek Lake (Ft. Dodge area) on Sunday, March 16