West Yellowstone, Montana, will host an North American Ice Fishing Circuit national qualifier this weekend. The qualifier takes place on Sunday and is open to any two-person team. Teams range from locals to national-level pros to teams just wanting to learn more about ice fishing. Teams can register up to 6 p.m. at the Saturday night reception and rules meeting.
The tournament is located on Hebgen Lake, just outside of West Yellowstone. Kirkwood Marina is the location for the tournament starting point and Kid’s Ice Fishing Camp.
Throughout the two days preceding the tournament, there are many educational opportunities. These activities are free and open to the public.
New for 2020, the NAIFC has added a High School Division/Student Ice Fishing. The SIF high school qualifier will be held Saturday morning. It is open to students 12 years of age and older, in a two-person format. Coaches and parents are allowed on the ice to assist the student anglers but are prohibited from fishing.
There are no entry fees to the high school championship or high school qualifiers. The anglers will be competing for scholarships/grants and trophies. The high school anglers will join SIF youth division of the NAIFC. A $25 SIF membership includes in-school seminars, meet-and-greets and VIP merchandise programs.
Friday night kicks-off with a gathering with a chance to meet local fishermen, familiar with Hebgen Lake, along with nationally ranked ice fishermen. A social hour and informal introductory information for people new to ice fishing — and networking with experienced friends who love to ice fish — starts at 5 p.m. at West Yellowstone Holiday Inn Conference Center, 315 Yellowstone Ave. The high school rules meeting will also take place at 5 p.m.
One of the most popular activities of the weekend is the free NAIFC Kid’s Free Ice Fishing Camp will be back again on Saturday. The classroom portion will begin at 1 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Conference Center, then move out to Kirkwood Marina on Hebgen Lake for on-ice fishing and lunch from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. All kids can participate, along with family members, regardless of age. This is the largest kids ice fishing camp in the Intermountain West where kids get to meet ice fishing pros and members of the USA Ice Fishing team.
The classroom instruction and demonstration will cover ice fishing equipment, techniques, safety, conservation and environmental stewardship. Before leaving, all kids who participate also will receive a complimentary ice rod. The NAIFC Kid’s Ice Camp is sponsored by ice fishing industry supplies along with local businesses, food suppliers and Kirkwood Marina.
On Sunday, the NAIFC will conduct the Hebgen Lake Qualifier with two-person teams fishing from approximately 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. for thousands of dollars in cash and prizes. At 3 p.m., the NAIFC tournament weigh-in will be conducted at the Holiday Inn Conference Center. Cash and prizes will be awarded to the top teams. The top 10 finishing teams also receive an invitation to the NAIFC National/North American Championship to be held next December.
Make sure to bring the family and enjoy our other events and activities happening throughout West Yellowstone. Saturday and Sunday children and their families can enjoy activities like snowshoeing, M120 Kids snowmobile rides, live raptor programs from the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center, s’mores, sledding and skating for free during the Kids’N’Snow Weekend.
For more information on the NAIFC, tournament events, the Kids ICE CAMP, information about the West Yellowstone/Hebgen Lake lodging and activities for tournament, go to www.westyellowstonemticefishing.com. To enter an NAIFC qualifier please go to www.naifc.com. For information on lodging and other winter activities, go to www.DestinationYellowstone.com or contact the West Yellowstone Visitor Center at 406-646-7701.