The hot dogs and hot chocolate are always a hit, but the bluegill, crappie and free fishing gear make up the main event.
The goal is to introduce a lifelong sport to hundreds of children. And it seems that the mission has been more than accomplished by the Yahara Fishing Club.
With an endless supply of new attendees ready to pull a fish through a hole in the ice, the club will hold its 25th annual Kids’ Ice Fishing Day on Monona Bay on Saturday.
Swarms of young anglers converged last year for Kids’ Ice Fishing Day on Monona Bay. The Yahara Fishing Club’s 25th annual event will take place this Saturday at the Brittingham Park Picnic Shelter along West Washington Avenue near South Park Street.
The free event, located outside the Brittingham Park picnic shelter near West Washington Avenue and South Park Street, is scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon. And with temperatures dropping throughout the week, there should be more than six inches of ice to hold eager anglers.
“Our mission at the club is to increase interest and opportunities for fishing and maintain the quality of the lakes,” said Philip James, club president. “Hopefully some people like it and it’s a lifelong activity. If we don’t have people who value the outdoors we won’t preserve it.”
James, who was introduced to the fishing club when he took his own children to Kids Ice Fishing Day more than 20 years ago, said there will be free fishing rods for the first 300 children, ice scoops and weights that are ‘stick to a template to help determine the depth of the water. Bait will also be supplied and this year it comes in the form of spikes, the half-inch long white grub of blow flies and a favorite of panfish.
Hundreds of holes will have been drilled in the early hours of the morning by club members, who will also be on hand to answer questions and offer advice. And while there’s no guarantee everyone will catch a fish, they’ll be setting up in one of southern Wisconsin’s most productive and popular fishing spots that also offers a view of the state Capitol.
“We don’t have the cache of the North Woods, but there are certainly great opportunities here,” James said. “Considering the weather hasn’t been great for the ice, it looks like Saturday will be pretty ideal.”
Ansel Bakkum, 8, Madison, center, watches Dave McCoy’s fish with the help of a sonar fish finder during last year’s kids’ ice fishing day in Monona Bay. McCoy is a member of the Yahara Fishing Club and was demonstrating the use of sonar. At left are sister Mille, 6, Dog, Banjo, brother Lincoln, 12, and father Eric Bakkum, right.
The Yahara Fishing Club, established in 1945, focuses on the Madison chain of lakes and its many species including panfish, bass, walleye, northern and apex predator and state fish, the muskie . The club, with about 170 members, offers educational events, promotes fishing and “supports local and state efforts to protect and preserve the natural resources associated with and necessary for fishing,” according to the club’s website.
The club meets monthly at Bowl-A-Vard Lanes, where it brings speakers who talk about fishing, the outdoors and conservation, but will also host a Kids Fishing Day on June 3 at Warner Park.
A small Bluegill caught during the event. On January 29, 2022, the Children’s Fishing Day event sponsored by the Yahara Fishing Club was held at Brittingham Park in Madison, Wisconsin. The first 300 kids received free ice fishing rods.