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updated: 1/14/2017 6:40 PM

Frankfort man wins grand prize at DuPage Hard Water Classic

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  • Matt Wolfe, left, was named the grand winner of the Hard Water Classic ice fishing tournament at Blackwell Forest Preserve Saturday. Wolfe, of Frankfort, reeled in a 37.5-inch northern pike.

      Matt Wolfe, left, was named the grand winner of the Hard Water Classic ice fishing tournament at Blackwell Forest Preserve Saturday. Wolfe, of Frankfort, reeled in a 37.5-inch northern pike.
    Justin Kmitch | Staff Photographer

  • Paul Michna/pmichna@dailyherald.comPatrick Barnat,11, of Plainfield and his uncle Ed Barnat of Downers Grove fish the day away.The DuPage County Forest Preserve District will sponsor its Hard Water Classic ice fishing tournament from noon to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, on the 62-acre Silver Lake at Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville

    Paul Michna/pmichna@dailyherald.comPatrick Barnat,11, of Plainfield and his uncle Ed Barnat of Downers Grove fish the day away.The DuPage County Forest Preserve District will sponsor its Hard Water Classic ice fishing tournament from noon to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, on the 62-acre Silver Lake at Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville

  • Paul Michna/pmichna@dailyherald.comThe DuPage County Forest Preserve District will sponsor its Hard Water Classic ice fishing tournament from noon to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, on the 62-acre Silver Lake at Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville

    Paul Michna/pmichna@dailyherald.comThe DuPage County Forest Preserve District will sponsor its Hard Water Classic ice fishing tournament from noon to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, on the 62-acre Silver Lake at Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville

  • Paul Michna/pmichna@dailyherald.comAidan McCoyd,13, of Wheaton keeps an eye on the tip of his rod while waiting for a bite.The DuPage County Forest Preserve District will sponsor its Hard Water Classic ice fishing tournament from noon to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, on the 62-acre Silver Lake at Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville

    Paul Michna/pmichna@dailyherald.comAidan McCoyd,13, of Wheaton keeps an eye on the tip of his rod while waiting for a bite.The DuPage County Forest Preserve District will sponsor its Hard Water Classic ice fishing tournament from noon to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, on the 62-acre Silver Lake at Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville

  • Paul Michna/pmichna@dailyherald.comThe hand of Aidan McCoyd,13, of Wheaton holds a jig and minnow he was using to lure fish. The DuPage County Forest Preserve District will sponsor its Hard Water Classic ice fishing tournament from noon to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, on the 62-acre Silver Lake at Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville

    Paul Michna/pmichna@dailyherald.comThe hand of Aidan McCoyd,13, of Wheaton holds a jig and minnow he was using to lure fish. The DuPage County Forest Preserve District will sponsor its Hard Water Classic ice fishing tournament from noon to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, on the 62-acre Silver Lake at Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville

 
Daily Herald report

Some things just always sound frigid, frosty and foreboding.

The Green Bay Packers, for example, seem destined to play all their important home games on frozen tundra.

Unlucky Russians get sent to Siberia.

And people who don't want to be bothered with you give you an icy stare and the cold shoulder, forcing you out into the cold, cruel world to deal with people with even colder hearts, all the while trying not to catch your death of cold.

But every once in a while, somebody does something to break the ice -- literally -- and remind you that cold can be fun, too.

That's what happened Saturday, when the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County played host to its fifth annual Hard Water Classic ice fishing tournament.

Matt Wolfe of Frankfort reeled in the biggest overall fish -- a 37.5-inch northern pike -- to become the tourney's grand winner.

"It really is for everyone," Bob McNeel, assistant manager of site operations, said in the days leading up to the event.

Well, maybe not for everyone. Because, let's be honest, not all of us want to dress in about 30 layers of clothing and tramp out to find the "perfect" spot on Silver Lake at Blackwell Forest Preserve near Warrenville and drop a line through a hole in ice that's about 8 inches thick on the remote chance that a big ol' fish might just happen to swim by and be hungry enough to try something out of the frozen food section.

So, no, the cold, hard truth is, it really isn't for everybody, but the tourney still attracted 322 dedicated anglers, up from 220 last year.

They spent a couple of hours wearing very attractive winter hats and hoping to snare the biggest largemouth bass or northern pike or crappie or bluegill in the whole lake.

At the Hard Water Classic, the anglers with the largest catches in each of those categories received gift cards from Cabela's worth $125 for first place, $100 for second and $75 for third. The overall winner got his choice of a gas-powered augur or a flip-style shelter.

When it was over, most everybody headed for someplace warm to tell only slightly exaggerated fish stories and think about how nice it will be next weekend, when the temperature is supposed to be around 50.

• Daily Herald staff writer Justin Kmitch contributed to this report

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