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Maple Lake Ice Fishing Derby Canceled Due To Poor Ice Conditions

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- This week's deep freeze won't be enough to save a popular Minnesota ice fishing tournament.

The Maple Lake Ice Fishing Derby had already been rescheduled. Now, it's canceled for only the second time in its 41-year history.

This is typically the time of year thousands flood Maple Lake with their ice houses, trucks and tents.

"It stays busy. People come out on Friday night, they camp over, we do bonfires," Mike Raiche, president of the Maple Lake Property Owners Association, said.

The annual Ice Fishing Derby is a staple in the modest Wright County town.

"We just love having families come out, it's a low-cost contest," Event Organizer Greg Thomes said.

Last year, organizers had to postpone it for a week because of warm weather. They kept a close eye on the ice this year.

"This year the ice went over on Dec. 19. That's one of the latest dates ever that it's actually covered and since then, the temperatures been in the 30s and then down. It's been a rollercoaster and just very inconsistent," Thomes said.

So inconsistent, the ice organizers won't take a chance on it holding the 3,500 fish houses and nearly 3,000 vehicles.

"This year it froze over, we got snow on it, the insulation kind of kept it from freezing down and she has just struggled to get above 12 inches. On a day like a week or two out we want 18 or 19 inches and then let it grow a little bit more but it's just not going to happen," Raiche said.

And so the event the community looks forward to will have to wait another year.

"You just kind of roll with the punches," Raiche said.

Organizers cite safety as the primary concern.

"We just pick up the pieces and count on next year. That's the best we can do, and there will be next year," Thomes said.

The Maple Lake Property Owners Association puts on the Derby with the help of about 150 volunteers. Proceeds go toward keeping the lake clean and back into the community.  Next year is already scheduled for Feb. 4, 2017, what they call, Super Bowl Saturday.

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