What started as a small charity event with only a few hundred participants has now turned into what is believed to be the largest ice fishing tournaments in the country. Battle on Bago has grown so much that organizers are starting the fishing tournament a day early.
A giant tent set-up in Menominee Park in Oshkosh will be filled with thousands of people Friday as ice fishermen and women from all across the US and Canada descend on Lakes Winnebago, Poygan and Butte des Morts for the 7th annual Battle on Bago.
Originally only a Saturday tournament, the event has grown so much that participants begin fishing Friday with the tournament wrapping up on Saturday afternoon.
"The first year we had 300 fisherman and now to have this many people come in and it's all for great cause," says Battle on Bago Committee Member Glenn Curran. "All of the money goes back towards kids and conservation."
With about 10,000 people expected to participate, organizers say the event will raise upwards of $300,000. Millions more will be coming into the local economy because of the crowd. The Reel Shot in Oshkosh is just one of many businesses benefiting from Battle on Bago.
Brian Keller from The Reel Shot says, "Business has been really good. Live bait, all the tackle, jig and wraps all that stuff has been flying out the door, so it's been good."
That's because with prizes like a Ford F-150 for 150th place or a boat for finishing 400th in the tournament, everyone has a chance to win. And so guys like Andy Wilkens, a first time Battle on Bago participant, are stocking up on bait and other necessities because if you don't play you can't win.
Wilkens says, "I bought two tickets for 60 bucks, baits not bad and the weather is not supposed to be too bad unless the winds come up, but it should be a good time."
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