Through the years Lake Mille Lacs has hosted a number of ice fishing tournaments.  Of course there’s the big ones with big names like Johnson’s Portside “Perch Extravaganza” and the Ducks Unlimited “Fishing for Ducks“.  Then there’s the smaller, yet just as exciting ones, hosted by the resorts – Nitti’s Hunter’s Point Perch and Pout Tournament, KJ’s Ice Jam Fishing Contest and Dickie’s Perch Search to name a few.  Among those smaller ones is Lyback’s Ice Fishing TWP Tournament.  Most of the contest names are pretty self explanatory but I wondered what Lyback’s TWP meant.  Tullibee, Walleye, Perch maybe? I decided to give them a call and find out and to my surprise it has nothing to do with Tullibee, Walleye or Perch!

So what does TWP mean?  Here’s the story (retyped as written up for Lyback’s years ago):

By the way, this is a long story…Smitty and Brad have spent a lot of time on the ice since 1993.  In fact, we have changed our kids diapers on the ice. (that’s a strong drive to want to go ice fishing, “your willing to take toddlers and care for them, just for the opportunity to go ice fishing”) anyway, see?  I digressed, that’s ADD for you.

Now back to the story.

Since we had sent so much time on the ice and were just obsessed with the sport, that also meant that we had a lot of “unsuccessful” experiences.  I never said we were good by any means, in fact I (Brad Buys for those of you who are new to us) went two full ice seasons on Mille Lacs, catching all the perch a guy could want, but I could not hook a Walleye to save a third world country.  I went two ice seasons watching new people like John Mylrea’s cousin, come to my permanent out of Lyback’s and catch a 27.5″ brute through the ice and then walk it to the house and ask “What is this”?

I have been to the Sand Hills of Nebraska with Jason Stahr and Don Cox a total of three times.  Watching little girls struggling to catch a bluegill.  So I take time to tie on a Genz Fat Boy and show her how to work a horizontal jig, and then watch her catch a 10.25″ Bull Gill.  While I have been there three times and have yet to catch a 10″+ gill. (out there)

So I was cast as “Bad Luck Brad”, teased, tormented and yet full of dreams of Video’s, marketing schemes, tournaments, and a lack of fishing skills.

Then, one day, sitting in Strikemaster Ice Augers offices, I over hear Jeni Heid talking to Dave.  She gets off the phone and I ask, “Dave?, Dave Genz?” To which she replied, “yeah”, and something about an auger to pick up for the season.  I got Dave phone number from her and called him to take him to lunch and talk about the ideas I had.
He stated, “I never pass up a free lunch, sure”
So I ended up going to Dave’s house and saw his burned up kitchen from when he was frying fish.  Patsy doesn’t let him cook anymore. (by the way, that’s a shame, cause he can cook some fish boy!!)

I won’t tell you the whole story of his and my visit, but I came away from there like I had seen the Dali Lamas.  I was focused, knew what I had to do, and was driven to test some things.  I fished with Matt Stone of Northland Tackle that same night and caught my limit of walleye.  First time I had done that since I was 17 on Leech Lake, Walker Bay.

About the same time, the “Perfect Storm” came out in book, and then another book called “The Hungry Ocean” written by Linda Greenlaw, the only female, long line, sword fishing captain in the North Atlantic.  She wrote about superstitions and bad luck and how she as a woman captain, “a Jonah”, should have called her boat the “Thirteen Whistling Pigs” because they were all a form of bad luck and superstitious lore.

  • 13 for obvious reasons
  • Whistling is said to call in the winds, that bring rough seas and accidents
  • Pigs. Pigs and water don’t jive, they do a dog paddle and cut their own throats putting blood in the water and attracting sharks.

On our second trip to Nebraska we had nine people and I introduced the “Thirteen Whistling Pigs”.  That same year we had a gathering out of Lyback’s with seventeen people
The next year we had 45, then 75, and we held at 75 for two more years before going to Rainy Lake with 45 people and then 18 at Rainy the second year.
We went back to Lyback’s with 48 people, then last year we had 78 people.
I wonder where we will be this year.

The TWP is for Pro’s and Joe’s, and those who want to learn from the top ice anglers in the world, (literally) and come together to share a day of experiences.

We promote the sport of ice fishing, we are sponsored by manufacturers whom, we are proud to be associated with, and that comes down to how they treat their customers.

The TWP founder, Mike Smith, John Mylrea and Brad Buys, the TWP Core group of members Kevin Winkler, Jack Baker, Mike Zickerman, Keith Kuebelbeck.

All this started over 20 years ago and it’s been held out of Lyback’s every year except one at Rainy Lake.  The past 4 years Eddy and Cindy have taken it over with the organization, prizes, etc. and the group decided after all those years it should stay here.

So join the TWP (Three Whistling Pigs) tournament this year on February 21st.  Space is limited to 150 participants (a far cry from their tournament start with 17 people).

Thank You Eddy & Cindy of Lyback’s Ice Fishing for sharing your story with me and for allowing me to share it with the world.

Be sure to check out our Calendar of Events for a list of all the ice fishing tournaments around the lake!