Local Ike's chapter faces flooding, COVID double-whammy

STEVE RHODEN, a member of Izaak Walton League Chapter 16, is heading up this year's annual raffle. He will have a tent, sandwich board sign and tickets in the parking lot at Sunshine Foods on Friday, Sept. 11, and in the parking lot at Lewis Drug on Saturday, Sept. 12.

The fieldstone clubhouse just off Territorial Road has stood the test of time. Constructed in 1934, less than a decade after Chapter 16 of the Izaak Walton League was organized, it has survived everything Mother Nature has thrown at it -- including two floods in less than 30 years.

"We had 18 inches of water inside the clubhouse," member Steve Rhoden said of the 2019 flood.

Fortunately, members had assistance with the clean-up after the water receded. Local BSA Troop 5 stepped up to help.

"The scoutmaster brought seven or eight young guys out to help with the clean-up," Rhoden said. "They did a tremendous job."

Of course, the relationship between Ike's and the Boy Scouts is longstanding, he noted. The Boy Scouts take advantage of the lakeside grounds for camping trips.

That is just one of the youth activities which the local group supports by making their facilities available.

"We have hunter safety classes out here every year and we feed the kids for that," Rhoden said. The group also feeds those who participate in Casting for Kids, an annual event which honors a couple local sportsmen.

In order to support these youth activities, maintain the clubhouse and support conservation efforts, the group generally holds several fundraisers every year. In the spring, they fry up bullheads for the annual fish feed. Tables placed perpendicular to paneled walls seat six and are filled for this, according to Rhoden.

"During the fish feed sometimes people have to wait a little bit," he commented, adding the line sometimes goes out the door.

Later, there's a pancake breakfast feed.

"One of our biggest ones is during the Prairie Village [Steam Threshing] Jamboree," Rhoden said. Ike's not only has campsites which are full every year, but also holds a steak and fish feed.

"Of course, that got canceled. Most of our fundraisers went down the drain this year," he said.

With just 55 paid members, that loss of income has been noticed.

"We have a lot of loyal friends and members who always come to our functions," Rhoden explained.

Not one to be discouraged by setbacks, he stepped up to chair this year's raffle. The organization always raffles a gun and fishing rod with reel. This year, those who purchase tickets will have an opportunity to win other prizes as well.

Sunshine Foods, Local Zip convenience store and gas station, Madison Discount Liquor and Pizza Ranch have donated gift certificates. The Lew's spinning rod and reel combo was also donated by a local business, the Madison One Stop.

One other change has been made to make raffle tickets more attractive to women who may not be interested in either hunting or fishing.

"If a lady wins the gun, she can say, `I'll take $300 cash'," Rhoden said.

To make tickets more readily available to community members interested in supporting Ike's, the group will have a tent in the Sunshine parking lot on Friday, Sept. 11, and in the Lewis Drug parking lot on Saturday, Sept. 12. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The drawing will be held on Saturday, Sept. 19, following the Third Annual Members Invitational Fishing Tournament. Two-person teams can fish from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

"As long as one is an Ike's member, they can fish in it," Rhoden indicated.

The event was initially started to provide members with a way to introduce friends to the organization. It is being held this year, when so many events have been canceled, because participants can easily maintain social distancing.

During the event, they are in two-person boats. Socializing after the weigh-in usually occurs outdoors.

"Most of the time, if it's not raining, we're standing outside having our hamburgers, beans and chips," Rhoden said.

Although Ike's wasn't able to host a trap shooting league this year, the grounds are now open on Tuesday nights for trapshooting. It's a far cry from the kind of activity usually seen on the grounds, but it shows the kind of spunk that has kept Chapter 16 going for 95 years.

The national organization was founded in 1922 by 54 sportsmen who sought to combat water pollution and protect the nation's woods and wildlife. The Madison chapter was established in 1925.

"We're the defenders of air, water, soil and trees," Rhoden said. "We're trying to protect our environment and resources."