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La Porte to host North American Ice Fishing Circuit

January 4, 2018 GMT

La PORTE — Visit Michigan City La Porte announced, for the first time ever, La Porte will be hosting the North American Ice Fishing Circuit qualifying tournaments on Feb. 9, 10 and 11.

A local fishing derby, the Maple City Ice Fishing Classic, will also be held on Feb. 10 to get local fishing enthusiasts involved.

“We’re always looking to do something in January, February and March for our hotels and restaurants because those are the months that are tougher for tourism,” said Jack Arnett, executive director for Visit Michigan City La Porte.

This is the first year the NAIFC will be coming to this part of Indiana, Arnett said, the NAIFC mostly holding its qualifying tournaments in climates more easily reliable to have solidly iced over lakes like Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota.

Arnett stated Visit Michigan City La Porte jumped on the chance for the circuit to be held in La Porte when a spot happened to open up, feeling the event was perfect for the La Porte area as it highlights one of La Porte’s most touted features — its lakes.

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“You have to go with what you have, what your inventory is. When we’re trying to bring people in, we use the casino, the shopping mall, Lake Michigan and in La Porte we use our abundance of inland lakes,” he said.

“We have to take advantage of our lakes, because that’s what we have,” he added.

The NAIFC will be a three-day event headquartered out of La Porte Best Western Plus Hotel and Conference Center. The tournament is open to 100 two-person teams with the top 10 finishing teams receiving an invitation to the NAIFC North American Championship to be held in December of 2018 on the Twin Lakes in Naytahwaush, Minnesota.

"There was an immediate buzz when La Porte was announced as a Qualifier,” said NAIFC Tournament Director Jack Baker.

"It is exactly the kind of city we look for to hold a National event… The lakes are fishy and literally a part of the community. For a fisherman there is no better feeling than knowing you are appreciated and welcome into a community. The La Porte Tournament became a must attend when announced,” he said.

While the competition portion of the qualifier takes place on Sunday, the NAIFC Qualifier kicks off Feb. 9 with a Friday night seminar hosted at the La Porte Best Western.

The seminar is free to attend and open to the public with drawings for Quicksilver Lubricant prizes for those in attendance. From 5 to 7 p.m. the seminar will demonstrate ice fishing basics and then at 7 p.m. will take it up a notch by highlighting fishing techniques from across the Ice Belt as well as Aqua Vu underwater camera use and tournament tactics.

While NAIFC tournaments attract the best of the best from across the Ice Belt, it is generally the local teams with their home field advantage that hold the competitive edge. Lake boundaries are set with teams allowed to move and drill as many holes as they wish.

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Tournament fishing hours are from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Feb. 11, with weigh in at Cummings Lodge. The species and team bag limit for Pine/Stone Lake will be 8 Bluegills and 8 Crappies. Portable fish shelters are allowed with walking, ATVs and snowmobiles the modes of transportation.

The NAIFC pays deep into the field with one team out of every five teams earning cash. Along with the cash prizes the winning team takes home "The Wood" (NAIFC Trophy). Aqua Vu, Quicksilver Lubricants and Lucky John Lures provide additional Product Prizes.

Saturday before the competitive tournament will focus on fun for the locals as The Friends of Fishing will host a local fishing derby for the public on Feb. 10. Registration will begin at 5 a.m. at Cummings Lodge on Stone Lake. The tournament will end at noon and there will be cash prizes offered, plus every fisherman’s name will be entered into a drawing for a gas auger donated by Visit Michigan City La Porte.

Local kids will also take center stage on Saturday during the Kids Ice Camp where area kids and parents are welcome to a free event sponsored by Ice Team and Lucky John Lures. Starting indoors at 1 p.m. at the La Porte Best Western, kids and parents learn about ice safety, bait, electronics, rods and jigging techniques. At 2 p.m. both the kids and parents are invited out onto the ice to experience in person what was demonstrated inside. Every kid in attendance will receive a fishing rod from Lucky John Lures. Quicksilver Lubricants product prizes for adults will also be drawn for.

“Our expectations are high… we’re hoping it’ll grow,” Arnett said, adding the tourism organization is looking to use the current cold spell to the area’s benefit by drawing large numbers of ice fishers.

Even if the cold weather lets up before the early February dates and the ice thins, Arnett said the money used to pay for the tournament spot wouldn’t be lost.

“If there is no ice and they can’t fish, the money will hold over until next year that we paid and we’d get the event next year. We won’t lose the fee we paid to get them here,” Arnett said.

For more information on the NAIFC, Qualifiers, Championship, Friday Night Seminar or Kids Ice Camp, go to www.naifc.com or contact Jack Baker at (612) 308-4858 or jbakersports@hotmail.com.

To enter a NAIFC Qualifying tournament click on Registration www.naifc.com

For information go to www.michigancitylaporte.com.