The Patriots of ice fishing

Photo provided by Austin Stankowski


The Mirror reporter

For three years high school Coach Scott Stankowski and his team have won three state championships. They weren’t for basketball, baseball, or even football, but for the Wisconsin Interscholastic Fishing Association (WIFA).

The Wisconsin Rapids/Stevens Point Co-Op Ice Fishing Team has been dominating the competition.

WIFA is an organization focused around the sport of high school ice fishing. Every year it hosts a State High School Ice Fishing Championship on one lucky lake or flowage in Wisconsin.

For the past three years the state tournament has taken place on the Chetek Chain of Lakes, on Shawano Lake, and on the Red Cedar Chain of Lakes.

Stankowski said, “I just try to encourage the kids however I can. The fact that we win championships shows you how much talent each and every member of the team has.”

The team consists of ten members who try to catch as many fish as possible with the five biggest perch, bluegills, crappies, northern, and bass counting towards their total points. Teams are also allowed to register one walleye.

Teams are allowed to pre-fish before the contest with the actual contest lasting one day. The team with the most points at the end wins the state championship.

Last year, the championship tournament involved 64 teams from 41 different schools across the state.

Throughout the year team members send each other messages trying to help each other out with where to fish. This becomes extremely important when time comes for state. “I bet the kids send over 500 messages between one another trying to hone in on where the best spots are,” Stankowski said.

Photo provided by Austin Stankowski

Last year’s prize was a Clam ice fishing rod and case for each team member. In the past the winning team was awarded a full IceArmor suit, a $500 value.

Members of the team like to joke around; for example member Nate Jackan said, “We keep winning because we have the Bill Belichick of ice fishing coaches.” The funniest part is, even though they may be joking, there is still a hint of seriousness in their voices.

The members love to joke around and have fun, but as soon as they hit the ice or water, they are completely different. They turn into fishing machines, determined to not let anyone pull them down.

Photo provided by Austin Stankowski

The team’s slick jerseys, according to team captain Dustin Arnold, “Helps strike fear into our opponents, we now have a target on our backs and everyone is gunning for us, so the jerseys let them know ‘come and get us.’”

Teams will continue to gun for them until they can figure out how to finally beat this team.

The team will be looking to continue its roll this year Feb. 17, on the Minocqua Chain of Lakes. Many members know the chain so they will be looking to capitalize on the opportunity of finally knowing a lake.

The team had never fished either the Chetek or Red Cedar chains before they went out there and won the championship.

Stankowski said, “I can remember around five years ago when I first started the team. Even I never envisioned getting this far and winning three consecutive championships.”

Since the championship started to gain more and more popularity, all his teams have been able to do is win.

Arnold said, “It will be cool to look back and say ‘I won three straight state championships.’ It doesn’t matter what sport you are in winning three straight is an incredible feat.”