Fishing contest brings masses to the ice
Fish Hook Lake was buzzing Saturday with about 1,750 people on the ice for the 12th annual American Legion Community Fishing Contest.
Numbers were slightly down from previous years but organizer Jerry Benham said the day was a success.
"Other than being wet, everyone seemed to be having a good time," he said.
People began setting up early Saturday morning and the contest kicked off at 1 p.m. with Amber Johnson, 11, singing the National Anthem.
The first fish was registered and weighed at 1:02 p.m.
There was approximately 20 to 22 inches of ice in most places. Water on top of the ice made for a wet day but snow made walking OK.
All categories for the fishing prizes were filled although they took a while to fill. By 1:30 p.m. the bluegill and northern divisions weren't filled. But by 3:30, when the contest finished, a total of 245 fish were registered and weighed.
Some of the younger crowd was having good luck catching fish, though.
"I got a perch," said Molly Schouwiler. "I was on the board for a little while. I won a fishing pole for the crazy hat contest."
Joe Hince, of North Dakota, wasn't having as much luck but continued fishing during the afternoon with a smile on his face.
Jada and Preston Renneberg, brother and sister, had a good time fishing next to each other. Jada peered down her fishing hole looking for fish to take a bite at her line.
Fish were on the small side overall. The largest was a 22 inch northern weighing in at 3.32 pounds.
The grand prize for the 10th largest fish in any category went to Robert St. Clair, of Becida. He caught a .82 ounce rock bass. The prize was an Ice Castle fish house.
Contests for craziest hat and minnow eating kept people entertained during the event.
Mike Whiteside, of Park Rapids, won a prize for chewing and swallowing a minnow before others. He likely needed a breath mint after that, he said.
Overall, organizers were happy with the event even if numbers were slightly down.
"It's always a fun day for fishing and a good day for Park Rapids," Benham said.
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