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Thin ice cancels popular fishing tournament for only second time in 41 years

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A popular ice fishing tournament that attracts thousands of competitors this year has been canceled because of a lack of ice.

WCCO reports weather conditions have led to the cancelation of this year's Maple Lake Ice Fishing Derby for only the second time in its 41-year history, having already postponed the event to Feb. 20 in the hope of colder weather.

Temperatures are dropping this week, but it won't be enough to save the event, with organizers making the announcement on Monday on its website, saying "our fishermen and teams' safety is our top priority."

"This year the ice went over on Dec. 19. That’s one of the latest dates ever that it’s actually covered and since then, the temperatures been in the 30s and then down. It’s been a rollercoaster and just very inconsistent," organizer Greg Thomes told WCCO.

WJON reports that along with the ice fishing tournament, the derby's vintage snowmobile show, arctic plunge, ice auger drilling contest and dance on the ice are also canceled.

Every year, between 8,000 and 9,000 people in 3,000 vehicles head for 3,500 fish houses on the Wright County lake, according to the Star Tribune, but "inconsistent temperatures" seen this winter made it difficult for a think layer of ice to form.

Wright County Sheriff's Sgt. Brian Johnson told the newspaper that in heavily-traveled spots, the ice had thinned to just three inches, and though other parts of the lake had between 13-15 inches, this is still considered too week for some trucks and other large vehicles based on DNR guidelines.

The Sheriff's Office had issued a thin ice warning at the weekend to people heading out onto the lake, having seen an increase in vehicles going through ice in the past week.

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