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Community fishing drives need and deserve our support

Members of the Park Rapids Dark House and Angling Chapter are working to raise funds to secure the Ice Castle fish house shown in the background. The group's goal is to provide ice fishing opportunities for anglers, but members are working to generate funds throughout the summer months. (Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)

Beginning July 1, Minnesota residents are able to fish in a State Park without a fishing license.

The new regulation does not alter or amend any rules or regulations pertaining to either Minnesota fishing regulations or State Park rules, but gives anglers a chance to catch fish without purchasing a license.

Shore fishing, wading, and fishing from a boat or float on designated lakes within the state park is permitted.

Essentially, if a lake is totally surrounded by the perimeter of the state park, angling without a license is permissible.

However, a current Minnesota fishing license is still required in city, county, regional and federal parks. Anglers would also need a license and trout stamp on designated trout lakes within a state park.

Edie Everts, Park Rapids Area Fisheries Assistant Supervisor is optimistic that the new program will encourage more people to go fishing. "I hope it brings more anglers out to the lakes to try fishing since there is still a decline in the number of young people who take part in fishing," says Everts. "Maybe it will give parents the extra nudge to take their kids fishing or possibly encourage adults who haven't fished in the past few years, or those who have never been fishing, to give it a try."

Another unique opportunity for anglers is the Senior Citizen Community Fish House.

Though blustery winter winds won't arrive for months, a group of volunteers are working feverishly to make the dream a reality this upcoming winter.

The concept is simple; sign up to use the fish house, then go fishing.

The new Ice Castle fish house is a project spearheaded by angling enthusiast Sheila Heide. A group formed to follow her wishes aspires to purchase the house that currently sits at Smokey Hills Outdoor Store on Highway 34 in Park Rapids.

The group is looking for both volunteers and monetary donations from businesses, groups and individuals to get the program started.

Purchasing the fish house is the first obstacle; $5,000 is needed to secure the fish house and cover operational costs. Placing the fish house on the lake and maintaining it throughout the winter months is another facet of the program; one in which community volunteers are needed.

The fish house will be on display today and tomorrow at the Hubbard County Fair for people to tour.

To donate to the Senior Citizens Community Fish House or for more information about becoming a volunteer, contact Sheila at 218-732-3040.

A third unique angling opportunity that is coming to the Park Rapids area is called Let's Go Fishing. Judy Miller, the new executive director of Living at Home, is overseeing the project, with numerous community members working hard to raise funds to purchase a pontoon.

That pontoon will arrive at various area lakes to provide fishing trips for area senior citizens.

With the massive number of lakes in the Park Rapids area, Let's Go Fishing is a wonderful concept.

For more information on the Park Rapids chapter of Let's Go Fishing and to make a donation, contact Judy Miller at 218-732-3137.