The Greatest Shows on Ice
Grab your auger, stock up on hand warmers, and if you're truly insane, bring your swim trunks. It's time for this winter's finger-numbingest ice-fishing festivals.
North Dakota Super Trap Attack **
**Devils Lake, North Dakota
[BRACKET “January 8¿¿¿9”]
Devils Lake is the site for some serious competition when 150 two-person teams clash in a perch tourney with a $10,000 first prize. Spectators are welcome to wander around and check out how the ice savants use underwater cameras and electronic fishfinders. This is the first in a series of five contests that last through March.
** Brainerd Jaycees 2005 Ice Fishing Extravaganza
** [BRACKET “January 22”]
Touted as the world’s largest ice fest, the Jaycees’ shindig draws more than 12,000 competitors to Gull Lake. For three hours, anglers slug it out for over $150,000 in cash and prizes (including the first prize of a Ford 4×4 pickup). In the On Ice Olympics, kids compete for medals by doing some jigging of their own.
International Eelpout Festival
Leech Lake, Minnesota
[BRACKET “February 11¿¿¿13”]
The burbot-a.k.a. eelpout, a freshwater cod-is the inspiration for a humdinger of a party, now in its 26th year. Ten thousand people swarm the 4-foot-thick ice and do a lot more than fish. Highlights include the Eelpout Peelout 5-mile run, the Best Eelpout Encampment Contest (bribes are accepted), and the Polar Plunge.
Duluth Big Jig Ice Fishing Contest
[BRACKET “February 13”]
On Pike Lake, more than 600 anglers compete for the biggest fish of whatever species their hearts desire-could be a sucker, a perch, a northern pike. Proceeds benefit University of Minnesota-Duluth Athletics. The first-place winner takes home a Toyota truck, and the coveted 100th-place prize is $1,000.
Windham Rotary Sebago Ice Fishing Tournament
[BRACKET “February 26-27”]
Up to 5,000 participants hit 28,800 acres of ice in a “togue” tournament (local vernacular for the rogue lake trout that the state has been trying to remove since it supplanted native Atlantic salmon) with a $25,000 purse. The weekend includes snow sculptures, a polar ice dip, and the naming of the ice fisherman of the year.