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updated: 2/10/2011 4:01 PM

Warm weather expected for 51st ice fishing derby

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The Chain O' Lakes Ice Fishing Derby and Winter Festival is back and expected to be better than ever, officials said.

The 51st annual event will take place Saturday and Sunday at the Thirsty Turtle in the 42000 block of Woodbine Avenue in Antioch, on the shores of Channel Lake.

A satellite event will take place at the Sandbar Sports Bar and Grill, located in the 40000 block of North Douglas Avenue in Antioch on Lake Marie.

The event starts at 7 a.m. Saturday with the ice shanty registration and goes until 4 p.m. Things pick up again on Sunday at 7 a.m. Participants must turn in their fish weights by 2 p.m. on Sunday, and overall winners will be announced and raffle prizes awarded at 3 p.m. on Sunday.

Laura Golonka, spokeswoman for the Northern Illinois Conservation Club, said money raised during the event will go toward educating the public about the conservation club, as well as funding a college scholarship for an area high school student looking to begin a career in environmental studies.

She said the main events of the free festival will be held at the Thirsty Turtle, where there will be carnival games and other activities and food and drinks.

Hourly prizes will be awarded for the largest and smallest fish caught in each class. Each type of fish -- including bluegills, bass, stripped bass, catfish, Northern pike, Muskies, walleye and more -- is in a different class, she said.

At the end of the contest, cash prizes will be awarded to the largest and smallest fish in each category, while the largest fish caught overall will bring in $200.

The event will also feature an ice shanty decorating contest and a live auction, she said.

About 1,000 fishermen routinely take part in the ice fishing contest from many states around the Midwest.

"For those that have never tried it, it really is a fun family event," she said. "Plus, the weather is supposed to be in the high 30s, which is perfect. You couldn't ask for a better day to be out ice fishing."

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