Six Illinois anglers on USA Ice Team
Six ice anglers from Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan have been chosen for USA Ice Team to compete in the World Ice Fishing Championship (WIFC) March 12-14 in Rhinelander, Wis.
Eleven countries will be represented when they take to the frozen waters of Boom Lake—the first time the event will be held in the United States.
Team members after the final qualifying event on Lake Thompson are: Doug Bussian, Columbus, Wis.; Mike Boedeker, Lansing, Mich.; Tony Boshold, Carol Stream, Ill.; Billy Whiteside, Eau Claire, Wis.; Myron Gilbert, Brooklyn, Mich.; and Bob Esbenson, Palatine, Ill. The competitors will be joined by coach Greg Wilcznski of Pleasant Prairie, Wis.; team captain Mike McNett of Lombard, Ill.,; international delegate Joel McDearmon of Tomah, Wis.; and directors Chris Ward of Chaska, Minn., and Brian Gaber of Rhinelander.
Similar in many ways to the Olympics, teams from around the world come together at the WIFC to compete for the championship title in both team and individual events. Each team consists of five anglers with one alternate, a captain and coach. Most teams will also bring support personnel, trainers and managers. The tournament is a true test of one’s fishing skills, determination and endurance.
The rules prohibit the use of power augers or electronics of any kind. The anglers must rely on intuition, research, experience and stamina to find and ultimately catch fish. The ice on Boom Lake will be over two feet thick, something the European teams are not accustomed to as hand augers have to be used. Champions are crowned after two days of competition with placement based on the total weight of fish caught by each team.
Each team member is given a number according to their placement for the day and each day’s numbers are added, determining the winner with the lowest number.
Ties are broken by the heaviest combined weight in the tournament. Other countries scheduled to compete: Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Sweden and Canada. Panfish will be the target with only live bait allowed. The WIFC is sponsored locally by Downtown Rhinelander, Inc., Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce and Rhinelander Room Tax Committee who’ve combined for a weekend celebration complete with a Parade of Nations, ice shanty pageant, live entertainment, kids fishing clinics and more. The festivities begin Friday afternoon, March 12, at 3 p.m.