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Park Rapids Fishing derby is Feb. 1

The 16th annual Park Rapids American Legion Community Fishing Contest is right around the corner.

The event is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 1 on Fish Hook Lake. More than $110,000 in prizes will be given away.

“The ice is looking good,” said Jerry Benham, an organizer of the American Legion contest. “We’ve got anywhere from 18 to 24 inches of ice. The slush is pretty much gone too.”

Below zero temperatures will continue to keep a thick layer of ice on Fish Hook in anticipation of thousands of people venturing out on the lake that day.

Last year, the temperature was -22 degrees the morning of the contest. Benham is hoping it will be warmer this year.

“We’re hoping for warmer weather and some sunshine,” he said.

The fishing derby is always the first Saturday in February and brings tons of people to the area. Typically, there are between 3,000 and 4,000 people on the ice that day.

Tickets are $40 each. Besides the opportunity to fish is the chance of winning a raffle prize. The grand prize this year is a 2014 F-150 Ford truck from Park Rapids Ford. The vehicle is parked at the American Legion.

The 16th 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 and $2,000 awarded to the seller of the winning truck 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.

More than 60 raffle prizes are available. Additional prizes could be won in five fishing categories: Division I: bluegill and crappie; division II: northern, walleye and largemouth bass; perch division; rock bass division; and white fish division.

The white fish division is new this year.

“Last year 335 fish were caught,” Benham said. “The year before we had 483 fish. Anywhere around 350 to 400 fish is about the average for fish caught.”

Prizes range from cash to a rocking chair to a golf package with many gift certificates. The American Legion is sponsoring an ATV for a raffle prize this year.

The fishing derby weekend kicks off Friday, Jan. 31, with a welcome dance from 8 p.m.-12:30 a.m. with entertainment by “White Knuckle Willie.”

Sons of the American Legion breakfast will be served from 7-10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 1 at the Legion and a Post 212 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 “White Knuckle Willie.”

A Boy Scouts breakfast will be served from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 2 to wrap up the weekend.

Tickets are available at the American Legion or by calling 732-3360. For more information, contact the Legion at 732-5238. Information can also be found at

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