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Ice looks good for Park Rapids Fishing Derby

Forget all the high tech gadgets. The best way to see any fish under water is to look down into your fish hole. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

It's not too late to plan on attending the 13th annual Park Rapids American Legion Community Fishing Contest.

The event is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 5 on Fish Hook Lake. More than $110,000 in prizes will be given away.

"We have a good 19 inches of ice," said event organizer Jerry Benham. "We should be in good shape."

Bob Safratowich is also organizing the event this year.

The fishing derby is always the first Saturday in February and draws many people to the area. Typically, there are between 3,000 and 4,000 people on the ice that day, Benham said.

The economy has affected the derby some in the past few years but it is still a big draw for the area each February.

Tickets are $40 each. Besides the opportunity to fish is the chance of winning a raffle prize. The grand prizes this year are a 2011 Chevy Colorado truck and a 2011 Chevy Cruze car. The car giveaway is new this year, Benham said. Typically, just a truck is given away.

The vehicles are donated by Thielen Motors and are parked at the American Legion.

The 10th largest fish caught in any category will win an Ice Castle fish house, with $2,000 awarded to the seller of the winning fish house ticket. The fish house is also parked in front of the American Legion.

Also, $2,000 is awarded to the seller of the most tickets.

Tickets are available at businesses throughout the Park Rapids area and at the American Legion.

Sixty raffle prizes are available. Additional prizes could be won in four fishing categories: Division I: bluegill and crappie; division II: northern, walleye and largemouth bass; perch division; and rock bass division.

Prizes range from cash to a microwave to an ice auger, with many gift certificates.

The fishing derby weekend kicks off with a Post 212 dinner from 5-8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 4, followed by a welcome dance from 8 p.m.-12:30 a.m. with entertainment by "Billy D and the Crystals."

Breakfast will be served from 7-10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 5 at the Legion and a fundraiser lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Legion.

The fishing contest is from 1 to 3:30 p.m. on Fish Hook Lake that afternoon with an awards presentation at 5 p.m. at the American Legion. That evening is the fisherman's ball from 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. at the Legion. The entertainment will be "Billy D and the Crystals."

A Boy Scouts breakfast will be served from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 6 to wrap up the weekend.

Tickets are available at the American Legion or by calling 732-3360. For more information, contact Benham at 732-9657 or Safratowich at 732-9014. Information can also be found at

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561