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Paul Maywald Griffith his daughter Sarajane 16 bait line during an ice fishing derby Porter County ConservatiClub Valparaiso Ind. Jan.

Paul Maywald of Griffith and his daughter, Sarajane, 16, bait a line during an ice fishing derby at the Porter County Conservation Club in Valparaiso, Ind., on Jan. 26, 2013. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media

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AT A GLANCE

What: Porter County Conservation Club

Where: 320 N. County Road 150W, Valparaiso

More information: Call 779-7222 or visit the website www.conservationclub.com.

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Updated: March 2, 2013 7:13AM



A return of real winter weather was good news for the Porter County Conservation Club, which conducted its fifth annual ice fishing derby Saturday, a fundraiser for scholarships and a kids’ fishing program.

It drew 165 registered participants, who set up shanties on the 5-inch-thick ice that coated the club’s two ponds. The event usually raises $2,000 to $3,000, said Dave Brobowski, coordinator of the derby.

“This supports a lot of the things we do down here, mainly for the kids,” the Liberty Township resident said, adding the club offers two $500 scholarships for high school students who go into conservation programs, and sponsors an introductory kids’ fishing program in June.

The derby attracted families and anglers of all ages, and awarded prizes in six categories. Participants came from as far away as Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and Illinois.

Rich Schultz of Francesville brought his nephew, Hunter Shepherd, 13, and the two had a bucket with 12 bluegill, which wasn’t even everything they caught.

“It’s been a great time,” said Schultz, who took part in his first derby. “We’ve been doing really well. We just let the little ones go and kept the big ones.”

Although the smaller kids’ pond is catch-and-release, to help ensure children will catch something when they come to fish, the Art Bair Pond in back also offered a good yield.

“Every year, we start to get more and more fish, and the last five years, we’ve started to increase our stocking,” Brobowski said, adding funds to stock the pond also come from club events.

Club member Travis Bergstrom of Hobart was the judge for the back pond, keeping track of the weights and lengths of the fish caught there.

“This is our best year,” Bergstrom said.



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