Hebgen ice fishing tourney now features high school division

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High school students can enter in their own division at the West Yellowstone North American Ice Fishing Circuit National Qualifier contest this winter.

The fishing portion of the event, which runs from Jan. 10-12, is located on Hebgen Lake.

The ice fishing tournament takes place on Sunday and is open to any two-person team. Teams range from locals to national level pros to teams just wanting to learn more about ice fishing. Teams can register up to 6 p.m. at the Saturday night reception and rules meeting.

The Student Ice Fishing High School Qualifier will be held Saturday morning. The event is open to students 12 years of age and older in a two-person format. Coaches and parents are allowed on the ice to assist the student anglers but are prohibited from fishing. There are no entry fees for the students. The anglers will be competing for scholarships/grants and trophies.

Throughout the two days preceding the tournament there will be free public events.

Friday night kicks-off with a gathering featuring local anglers familiar with Hebgen Lake, along with nationally ranked ice fishermen. A social hour and informal introductory for people new to ice fishing starts at 5 p.m. at the West Yellowstone Holiday Inn Conference Center (315 Yellowstone Ave.). The high school rules meeting will also take place at 5 p.m.

One of the most popular activities of the weekend is the free NAIFC Kid’s Free Ice Fishing Camp on Saturday, Jan. 11. The classroom portion will begin at 1 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Conference Center, then move out to Kirkwood Marina on Hebgen Lake for on-ice fishing and lunch from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. All children can participate, along with family members, regardless of age. 

The classroom instruction and demonstration will cover ice fishing equipment, techniques, safety, conservation and environmental stewardship. Before leaving, all kids who participate also will receive a complimentary ice rod. The NAIFC Kid’s Ice Camp is sponsored by ice fishing industry supplies along with local businesses, food suppliers, and Kirkwood Marina.

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.

Other events and activities happening throughout West Yellowstone on Saturday and Sunday include snowshoeing, M120 Kids 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 on the NAIFC, tournament events, the Kids Ice Camp, information about the West Yellowstone/Hebgen Lake lodging and activities for tournament, go to www.westyellowstonemticefishing.com. To enter an NAIFC qualifier go to www.naifc.com. For information on lodging and other winter activities go to www.DestinationYellowstone.com or contact the West Yellowstone Visitor Center at 406-646-7701.

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