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Somerset Youth Fishing Contest is Saturday

The fifth annual Somerset Youth Athletic Association Ice Fishing Contest on Bass Lake in Somerset is scheduled for Saturday.

The tournament promises to be bigger and better than ever with more than $50,000 in prizes to be awarded.

For the Somerset Youth Athletic Association (SYAA) and Ice Team it's all about the kids. Five years ago this small community was faced with marked declines in not only the numbers of youth participating in outdoor activities, but extremely high equipment costs and continually escalating fees charged to participate in local team sports. Out of this came the creation of the Somerset Youth Athletic Association and the idea to hold an ice fishing contest.

The contest, now in its fifth year, gives young and old, beginners and seasoned anglers alike, the opportunity to enjoy a day in the great outdoors, competing for incredible prizes, with 100 percent of the proceeds being donated to benefit youth sports. This all volunteer contest is really unique in that it has a special division just for youth 15 and under. Over the years the contest has grown to attract participants from as far away as Chicago and International Falls.

For 2009 the contest has attracted the attention of Ice Team, undoubtedly the most recognized name in modern ice fishing. Ice Team has pioneered a program visiting schools across the country offering programs on the sport of ice fishing. Mike Smith, director of field promotions for Ice Team, said he was impressed with the contest's ability to draw new people into the sport, so impressed that Ice Team has become a major sponsor of the event.

The Ice Team will be sending many of its pros to the contest; their main responsibility will be to offer tips and strategies to improve your time spent on the ice and offer assistance to those who need it. Along with Ice Team, the top national names in ice fishing equipment, Clam, Strikemaster, Ice Armor, Vexilar, MarCum, Wilcraft and more will be there.

Dave Praschak, contest spokesperson, is proud that getting people to participate and enjoy the contest and ice fishing in general has become just as important as the funds that are raised for the community.

"It can't just be about raising money." says Praschak. "We try to be good stewards of the environment ensuring that the lake is in better shape when we leave than when we arrived there."

All fish are caught, registered and released quickly to help insure their survival. This year with the help of the organization, Recycled Fish, the SYAA will be creating a special "recovery canal" where the released fish have a chance to recover before swimming back under the ice. After last year's contest the SYAA went even further donating $1,000 toward restocking efforts for the lake.

This year's grand prize will be a new 4x4 Dodge extended cab pick-up with a MSRP of more than $27,500. Mike Kurre of KFAN radio will again be the emcee and master of ceremonies.

Engineering Dynamics from Stillwater will hand out 100 of its newest lure to kids 15 and younger for free. Their "Heads or Tails" jig was recognized as best new jig for 2009 by In-Fisherman Magazine.

One of the most amazing parts of preparing for the contest happens long before noon on the day of the contest. Numerous volunteers will begin drilling holes in the contest area starting at 6:30 a.m. This year D-Rock Service Center in New Brighton will provide more than 30 StrikeMaster Lazer Mag augers for the early morning drilling.

"I invite everyone to come on out and try StrikeMaster's best auger, and then stay and drill as many holes as you would like. Seriously, we can always use extra volunteers for hole drilling starting at 6:30 a.m.," Praschak said.

Camoplast will be on hand to demonstrate their tracked vehicle called the "Rhino."

This is truly a family friendly event offering fun for all ages. Whether you're a beginner or seasoned ice fishing veteran you're guaranteed a good time on the ice and you're participation benefits a worthy cause. To learn more about the contest or SYAA visit