Fishin’ around: Fowler Center preps for annual ice fishing contest

Plans are in place for the 22nd annual Ice Fishing Contest set to take place near Mayville in mid-February.

The Fowler Center for Outdoor Learning will host the contest in two sessions from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 at the center, 2315 Harmon Lake Road, Mayville.

The contest benefits programs at The Fowler that provide recreational and learning activities for about 2,000 children, adolescents and adults with special needs year round.

The ice fishing event is weather-permitting.

Lynn Seeloff, assistant director of The Fowler Center, said last year the event was canceled because of weather.

This year if the weather isn’t cold enough, Seeloff said the center will still have its chicken dinner and raffle but it will not be held at its original time of 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The dinner and raffle time would be moved to 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. for $8.

“The fundraiser goes toward our programs for children and adults with special needs and it’s our largest on-site fundraiser of the year.” Seeloff said.

Last year, according to the website Weather Underground, the average maximum weather temperature in Caro was 34 degrees. Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Seeloff said ideal weather has to be cold but not subzero temperatures or heavy winds.

In the past the center has put on fish frys, and last year has participated in Pizza Hut tip nights to make up for the loss of no ice fishing. Tip nights consist of members of a group working a shift of food service and gaining the tips as a fundraiser.

They also made up for the loss through donations from residents and sponsors who wanted to help.

Throughout the year there are different programs for those with special needs including summer camp, siblings camp and Camp Barefoot, designed for adults with traumatic brain injuries.

Seeloff said some participants will pay for themselves while others are funded through different agencies and the fundraisers the center puts on all go toward the program.

According to the Fowler Center website, a classic week of camp (those who only need moderate assistance) for a 21 year old or older is $636.

Tickets are sold on the day of the event for $20 a session for participants age 17 and older or pay $30 to fish all day. Children under 17 years old can participate for $5 a session. Registration starts before the event at 6 a.m.

Participants can fish for 10 marked pike, donated by Imlay City Fish Farm, that are tagged with a number and anglers must catch one of these fish to receive a cash prize. One lucky fisherman could land the grand prize, worth $7,000.

“If they win the $7,000 fish, that’s awesome, or if they win the cash prize or if they win the raffle that’s just a bonus for them,” said Seeloff. “But they just enjoy coming out on the day with their friends. They enjoy ice fishing anyway and they know the money is going toward a good cause and a good program. They just love coming out and supporting us, and that’s really great for us knowing that we have a faithful following in that respect.”

The event will be hosted by Rob and Susi Trott, who have hosted the event since 2010. Rob Trott used to host a television show called “Great Lakes Outdoors”.

Sponsors for the event this year include Meijer of Lapeer, Hartland Insurance Group and Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth.

Rick Riehl, account executive for Hartland Insurance Group in Auburn Hills, said Hartland insurance’s client, The Fowler Center, believes it is an excellent business and the work it’s doing for the event is great.

“The work they do toward their camps is truly remarkable,” he said. “They really, really look forward to being there every year.”

Bill Seeloff, an avid fisher, has attended the event in the past and said he enjoys being outdoors and fishing regardless if it’s ice or not.

“I do like the outdoors and it’s a great fundraiser for the camp,” said Bill Seeloff. “The camp is a necessary item for the community – it does great work so it’s good to support them.”

On the day of the event, Seeloff said the center will need about 50 volunteers to help. Interested volunteers can call Seeloff or those needing more information may contact the center at 989-673-2050.

Debanina Seaton is a reporter for The Advertiser and can be reached at debanina@tcadvertiser.com.

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