The 2013 World Ice Fishing Championships, held Feb. 16-17 on Big Eau Pleine Reservoir near Wausau, Wisconsin, pitted 11 nations in heated battle, with pride of country and medals on the line.
International ice fishing competition is contested under strict and detailed rules—two days, three hours each day. Teams fish separate zones for the first two days. Sectors are marked using ropes and cones, each 400 feet by 200 feet. Five ‘fishers’ form the lineup of each nation, with one randomly assigned to each of the five sectors.
In other words, you have no teammates inside your sector. Each fisher is granted a spotter, who must stand outside the sector but can talk and give direction. Coaches are allowed to walk the neutral zones between sectors, but cannot enter the sector. They are allowed to talk with their fishers and coach them during the competition.
After the ice chips settled on Day Two, Russia had won the team gold with 42 points (low score wins). Finland won silver with 48.5 points, and Lithuania bronze with 49 points.
Team USA, favored to win a medal going in, had a tough first day, rebounded well on Day Two, but finished just out of a medal in fourth place, with 51 points.
American Chad Schaub had the biggest catch of the competition on Day Two and soared into third place to win an individual bronze medal. Fighting back tears at the weigh-in and having difficulty talking, he mainly expressed disappointment that the Americans missed a team medal so narrowly, but was obviously thrilled to be taking home a medal to Michigan.
All in all, it was not what Team USA had drawn up, but there was great pride that they won Day Two handily over every other country. “I thought the team performed almost flawlessly today,” remarked coach Brian Gabor immediately after the horn sounded, ending the event. “There were a few tactical things, but everybody did the game plan, and the game plan worked.”
Team USA trials set for early March: open trials are being held in a few weeks, to select the 10 members of 2014 Team USA Ice Fishing. The trials are March 8-10, 2013, near Rhinelander, WI. Team USA will be traveling to compete in the World Championships next February in Belarus. For more information and to register to compete, go to www.usaiceteam.com.