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After postponing the 2018 Rock Island Conservation Club Winter Fishing Tournament, because of unsafe ice, it was conducted on March 3rd in open water conditions.

The day started out at 29 degrees, but warmed throughout the 4-hour tournament. There was a slight breeze, but nothing to keep down 34 men, women and children trying their luck at winning one of the 9 places available. As the day progressed the temperature made its way towards the 50-degree mark.

At around 11 some of the anglers without any bites started trickling in to give it up for the day. However, as always, someone would find fish.

This was a shoreline event in which anglers had to use ice fishing terminal tackle, but could use any length of rod. Rick Driessen took it to the full extent of also using short ice fishing rods to cast from shore. It must have paid off, as Rick walked away with the Overall Weight Bluegill category by catching 7 fish that weighed a total of 1.124 pounds. While that don’t sound like much, on a day like was being fished, it was good.

Ironically the spot that Driessen fished was the exact spot that the late Jim Garcia fished when he won the last open water RICC Winter Fishing Tournament held in 2006. On that day Garcia also used the shorter ice fishing rods.

The second and third place in this division went to Scott Dasso (.416 pounds) and Brad Johnson (.220 pounds).

The largest crappie honor was a shoot out between two people that fished together on the west lake side of the club. They were the only anglers who caught both keeper crappie and bluegill. Both anglers came in with a crappie that measured 10 inches, but Allen Weidner’s fish weighed .588 pounds, which was enough to squeak by James Terry’s fish with a weight of .500 pounds. These were the only two anglers to place in the crappie category.

As each contestant registered, they were given lures from Custom Jigs & Spins and Tru Turn hooks.

Winners in the individual categories received the return of their entry fee, plus a Frabill rod/reel ice fishing combo, Plano Worm Wrap, Work Sharp Field Sharpener, and a hat from Vexilar and Jiffy. Everyone, whether catching fish or not, received prizes from Frabill, Plano, Custom Jigs & Spins, Tru Turn, Daiichi, Rat-L-Trap, Mercury Marine, Jiffy Ice Drills, and Henry Repeating Arms, which were given away in a drawing. There was also a special Work Sharp raffle where Mark Nelsen was lucky enough to win the Electric Tool and Knife Sharpener, as well as the Field Sharpener Kit.

As always, the tournament was targeted to have fun for the entire family. Shortly after anglers headed to the water, Troy Eacker, RICC president, said, “We wanted to have a fun event to get everyone involved, and that is exactly what we are having with several young people with their parents.

If interested in finding more information about the Rock Island Conservation Club, visit their website at, where you can find upcoming events and contacts.

Dan Galusha caught his first solo fish at the age of 3, started his fishing career in 1973, wrote for newspapers and magazines, hosted radio and TV shows, won awards in fishing and media, conducted seminars, competed in and ran tournaments, and in 2012 was inducted as a Legendary Communicator in the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame.