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Gathering on the ice: 16th annual Park Rapids American Legion Fishing contest a winner

Top, between 1,200 and 1,500 people braved the cold to spend time at the 16th annual derby. At left, Jaydon Hafner, of Park Rapids, waits patiently for a fish to bite. Above, Christopher Bellanger prepares to eat an orange minnow for a contest. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)1 / 4
Cole Sutton created a wind block out of snow to stay warm.. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)2 / 4
Jaydon Hafner of Park Rapids wait for a bite. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)3 / 4
Julie and Tim Englund, owners of North Country Bait, used a GOPRO camera to get some underwater video at the contest. This is a still shot from the video. NorthCountry Bait supplies the bait on the ice. (Submitted photo)4 / 4

By Anna Erickson

The 16th annual Park Rapids American Legion Fishing Contest-goers saw sunny weather on the ice this year.

Between 1,200 and 1,500 people were on Fish Hook Lake Saturday, said Jerry Benham, derby organizer.

“It’s pretty slow this year,” volunteer Russ Carmichael said of the fishing. The total number of fish caught and a break down by species is still being figured out and will be in a future edition of the Enterprise.

Despite less than ideal fishing, a good time was had by all.

Youngsters Aaron McDonald and Dylan Moore had a fun time looking at the fish caught and placed in a large tank by the registration station.

Kim Ellsworth, of International Falls, came wearing a “crazy hat” with hopes of winning a prize.

The minnow eating contest was once again a highlight of the derby.

This year’s winners were Samuel Bellanger in the 10 and under category, Jack Christenson in the youth category and Logan Carmichael in the adult category.

While the youth simply had to swallow a wriggling minnow, the adults had to “crunch” twice before swallowing.

Russ Carmichael assured contestants that the orange minnows tasted like oranges.

Ann Fickle, of Brooklyn Park, caught the 16th largest fish with a 1.44 pound Northern and won the Ice Castle fish house.

Rodger McAleer, of Moorhead, won the raffle grand prize 2014 Ford truck.

A complete list of winners will be posted on the Enterprise website at

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