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Three local businesses have recently donated funds for the Park Rapids Community Fish House helping to "open the door" for anglers. From left to right Debbie Luther (Hubbard County DAC); Merrill Lowney (Wal-Mart Asst. Manager, $1,000); Sheila Heide, Kia Heide; Lynn Litzau (Wolf Lake Charitable Gaming $500); Pat Monson, Basil Shell, Darkhouse & Angling Association treasurer, and Marlin Heide. Servicemaster of the Rapids also donated $250. (Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)

Dock Talk: Community fish house will see ice anglers by this season

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Due to a colder than normal fall, it won't be long until ice encases the local lakes.

The Park Rapids chapter of the Minnesota Darkhouse and Angling Association along with local visionary Sheila Heide hope to have their current project, the Park Rapids Area Community Fish House, positioned on Fish Hook Lake by the end of the year.

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Heide came up with the idea as she thought of how her grandmother, Pat Monson, rarely fished on the ice since setting and maintaining a shelter on the lake had become increasingly difficult.

Heide wondered how many other community members were in the same situation.

After conducting some research and talking with Todd Payne of Smoky Hills Outdoor Store in Osage, she discovered that purchasing a decked out, deluxe Ice Castle fish house was a feasible endeavor. The idea was to place the shelter on an area lake for anyone to use. Simply sign up and go fishing.

The Park Rapids Darkhouse and Angling Association liked the concept and joined the effort.

Since the idea developed last spring, several organizations and businesses have donated money to the project and the fundraising is only $3,000 from the group's goal.

The Hubbard County DAC is already planning to integrate the Community Fish House into their programming. Other organizations are also excited about utilizing the warm shelter for angling outings on those sub-zero winter days.

Any business, organization or individual willing to monetarily support the Park Rapids Community Fish House is asked to contact Sheila Heide at 732-3040.

Speaking of the Darkhouse and Angling Association, the group will be holding their 12th annual Decoy Carver of the Year event on Saturday, November 21 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Park Rapids American Legion.

The public is invited to see the wonderful decoys on display in two categories; working and collectible.

Attendees can also watch the decoys as they're tested in a tank of water and cast a ballot for their favorite wooden fish.

The Park Rapids Community Fish House will also be on display for guests to tour.

Free coffee and snacks will be available, as well as decoys to buy, sell or trade. A raffle including three guns, a portable fish house, gas ice auger and custom-made spear will take place as well. Raffle tickets are currently available at local sporting goods stores or by contacting a Darkhouse and Angling Association member.

As an organization, the Minnesota Darkhouse and Angling Association has 15 chapters throughout the state, with active groups in Brainerd, central Minnesota, Detroit Lakes, East Ottertail (New York Mills/Perham), West Ottertail (Fergus Falls), Iron Range, Metro, Mid-State (Alexandria), Morrison, Bemidji, Park Rapids, Southern (Waterville), West Central (New London), Grand Rapids and Heartland (Melrose).

The Park Rapids chapter welcomes anyone to join the organization. Membership is $10 a year for adults and $5 for kids, which includes the Minnesota Darkhouse and Angling newspaper. Individuals interested in joining the local Darkhouse and Angling Association should contact Dean Hanisch at 732-7633.

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