Published April 08, 2011, 03:45 PM

Darkhouse chapter promotes youth fishing, clean lakes

Every year in February, the Lakes Area Chapter of the Minnesota Darkhouse & Angling Association hosts a youth fishing derby. For the past several years, the event has been held in conjunction with Detroit Lakes’ annual Polar Fest celebration.

By: Vicki Gerdes, DL-Online

Every year in February, the Lakes Area Chapter of the Minnesota Darkhouse & Angling Association hosts a youth fishing derby.

For the past several years, the event has been held in conjunction with Detroit Lakes’ annual Polar Fest celebration.

The annual fishing contest draws anywhere from 60 to 100 participants each year, says derby organizer John Knopf, a longtime chapter member — and this year’s event, held Feb. 19, was no exception.

“We had about 90 participants … it was a good year for us,” Knopf said.

The derby is one of two major projects sponsored by the local Darkhouse chapter each year.

The second project is the annual lake cleanup at the conclusion of the ice fishing season on Little Detroit Lake.

“We clean up all the rubble and debris left from ice fishing and other lake activities during the winter,” Knopf explained. “We find concrete blocks, tires, quite a bit of lumber debris, propane fuel bottles, even car hoods and carpet scraps.”

And though the chapter’s members have been doing the annual lake cleanup for about 15 years now, “we’ve never found anything of value,” Knopf added.

This year’s cleanup was held on Saturday, March 19.

“It wasn’t a very nice day — rainy, cool, kind of gloomy,” Knopf said.

“It was supposed to be 45 degrees, but it was a bit colder than that.”

In fact, it was still below freezing — which created a problem with clearing away some of the debris, because it had been frozen in place on the ice.

“We had to chip it out,” Knopf said of the frozen debris.

One large carpet remnant that had been used as flooring in one of the fish houses was so frozen in place that they had to put a winch on it, then use a four-wheeler to get the necessary leverage to release it from the ice.

“That was frozen in pretty good,” Knopf said.

In all, the Darkhouse members spent about four hours on the cleanup effort, he added.

As for why they keep doing it, Knopf said, “it’s just a community service.”

The Lakes Area Chapter of the Minnesota Darkhouse & Angling Association meets monthly, November through April, on the third Monday of each month.

Meetings are held in the basement of the Detroit Lakes VFW, starting at 7:30 p.m.

“We’re always looking for new members,” Knopf said, adding that the last meeting of this season will be held April 18.

The name of the Darkhouse & Angling Association comes from darkhouse spearing, a specialized form of spear fishing that involves sitting in a dark fish house on a frozen lake or river, waiting for a fish to be attracted into range by a decoy hanging several feet down below the surface of the ice, in the clear water below.

“It (the state association) is all about preserving the sport of ice fishing, and particularly spear fishing,” said Knopf, who is himself an avid spear fisherman. “Most of this group are spearers.”

The statewide organization has about 2,300 members, while the local chapter boasts a membership of about 80 people, Knopf noted.

For more information about the local chapter, you can call John Knopf at 218-847-3494.

To learn more about the state association, visit www.mndadrkhouse.org.

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