Monday, January 24, 2011

Brainerd Ice Fishing Extravaganza III

I've returned from a fun weekend at the cabin in Lakeshore, which is a computer-free zone btw - sorry for not posting in a few days.  Where is Lakeshore?  It's just north of Brainerd, Minnesota home of the world's largest ice fishing tournament: 10,000 strong this past weekend!

It's our third year venturing out onto this frozen slab of water with thousands of other hopeful souls.  Our 1st year air temp when we hit the ice at 11am was -27, last year it was raining and turned to snow just as we got to our holes. When standing around on ice for three hours, rain is bad, snow is good. Our timing was perfect.

The big news last year though was our friend Jon, our northwoods neighbor from Tom Lake in Hovland, placed 7th out of 12,000 people with a 2# tulibee. What's a tulibee you ask? We asked the same thing and now, thanks to Jon embracing the ecstasy of his win ALL year long, have it burned into our brains that it's a "commercially important whitefish." huh. Ugly fish, didn't know they even existed, but it did win him a very nice bright red Strikemaster ice suit (proudly displayed below) that kept him toasty warm this year when air temp was -15, windchill of -31.

Immediately after the canon-fire kickoff at noon people all around started reeling in fish. It was amazing to watch. The crowd of nearby ice-fishing hopefuls all cheer as soon as you start reeling in the fish, then yell to put it into a bag of water (catch and release of course), then yell at you to run. The "run" chant is picked up by hundreds, then thousands of other hopefuls as you slip and slide over ice to the check-in tent for official registration of your fish.

Why run? The only thing I can figure out, other than that it is amusing to watch some of the more inebriated hopefuls try to run across ice while they're bundled up like the Michelin Man, is that it sets you apart from 10,000 other people so everyone can look on longingly, curse their own iceholes and keep a loose track of how many fish are heading into the registration tent.

Alas, I only lived all this vicariously through my neighbor fishermen. Not a fish to be had in our group of four. Strategizing for next year has already begun: looks like we'll be in shallow water hoping for a passing northern (a 7.1# won this year) or a tiny perch (a .43# one captured the final spot on the leader board this year winning the lucky fisherman a brand new Arctic Cat ATV).

Check out the official photos and the winners on the Brainerd Area Jaycee's site.

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