Sunday, February 28, 2010

Fishapalooza Ice Fishing Tournament!

Yesterday I spent 9 hours out on a frozen lake with 12,541 of my newest acquaintances. It was the Fishapalooza Ice Fishing Tournament in Minnesota!

The preparation that goes into something like this is nothing short of amazing, both personally and for the tournament.

This past week I spent two nights preparing my sled with all the necessary equipment; poles, tackle, gloves, slush scoop, a small axe (to break through the ice) and my list of last minute things such as minnows, license, and food.

I got there around 8am as this was the first time I had done an ice fishing tournament. I paid $10 to park at the American Legion, two blocks away from the ice. I pulled my little sled to the ice and there were guys waiting to check your sled to make sure you didn't have a hidden six pound northern laying at the bottom.

By 8:30 I was checked in and told to pick a hole! 15,000 holes were drilled the night before on probably six neighborhood blocks in the middle of the lake. Where to go? I have never fished this lake before so I had no idea of any structure, depth or hot spots. Should I go left or right? Close to the tents or on the outside edge? All the decisions to make.

I decided to do what my fishing buddy Mike always says and fish were no one else is, so I sat in the middle of a block and watched all the others come out on the ice and go straight to the edge. Now at this time you would think I would be smart enough to know they probably know something I do not know, but I had already cleared out 3 holes around me with my trusty axe and scoop -- so why move!

Around 9:30 I am done setting up and head in to the main area to check out all the dealers. I could buy beer from the beer ladies, pizza from Papa John's, a Polaris ATV, A Fish House, Cheese Curds, a Vexlar system, an Ice Auger, Mini Donuts, Deep Fried Pickle, a fur hat, or a host of other items. Yes, it was a little fair 500 yards from shore!

The people kept coming on to the ice and a big sign went up that said "Pink Bikini Fishing Team"! What? I had to see what in the world this was so I worked my way around all the gawking men to see a dozen or so very fit woman in pink bikini's and white fur boots and hats digging out holes! It didn't take long for some of the guys to jump to the occasion to help, but what a scene. I didn't have my phone camera with so I headed back to my little spot to get it as it was way to interesting to see and share. By the time I got back to the area they were in their warming house (go figure) so I didn't get a picture of them for you.

Okay, back to fishing. I head back to my hole around 10:30 and find I have neighbors. Three men from Iowa have set up camp next to me. Chet, Mark and Gramps. Good old boys to say the least! We chatted a bit and introduced ourselves and it was nice to have a friendly few to talk with while we waited.

They were first timers as well and thought like me to be away from the crowded edge would be best. Even though they knew my name they called me "Minnesota" so everything from there on out was "Hey Minnesota want a beer", "Hey Minnesota see any fish yet", "Hey Minnesota what about that Favre guy"? I didn't want a beer at 10 in the morning, I had seen a few fish on the fish finder and I have no idea about the Favre guy.

11:30am, 30 minutes until the competition starts. The music is playing from the tent, there are kids taking $5 pony rides up and around the fishing holes, and all of a sudden the masses of fishing people approach. It is time to get ready!

11:50am the VFW Color Guard walks out on the ice and everyone stands. 11:55am the National Anthem is bellowed out loud by one of the National Guard Ladies present and at high noon two cannons go off signaling the start of the competition! GO FISH!

Three or four minutes later you hear screaming and yelling as the first catch of the day is running from the outside edge to the weigh in tent. Three hours of screaming, yelling and running go on as I look at my hole. Nothing...not a bite, not a bobber bobbing, nothing.

2:30pm I have 30 minutes left. Chet gets a fish and off he runs to the tent. a .5 pound crappie, but he is on the board. I gave him the Minnesota screaming and yelling routine!

3:00pm the cannons sound again and the tournament is over. No fish for me! I pack up my stuff and head to the tents to see the results. The tension is rising and the people are gathering.

Josh, Josh "something or something" come on up. You caught the winning fish, a 5.49 pound Northern. Josh? This kid about 12 years old walks up on the stage and stands there. The announcer again "Josh we need you on the stage". A guy from the crowd says "he's up there already" and the announcer turns to the kid and says "are you Josh". The boy raises his hand and says "I am Josh". The crowd goes nuts! 12,542 fishing people and the 12 year old from Minnesota wins the tournament!

Josh gets one of those huge checks and as his picture is being taken you can barely see his head over the monster check. It's the interview next:

Announcer -what did you catch him on Josh?
Josh - A hook (crowd cheers)
Announcer - Do you remember what color hook?
Josh - Maybe red
Announcer - Do you remember where you caught him?
Josh - I caught him over there (pointing to the lake)
Announcer - Well Josh you now have something for Show and Tell on Monday - Congratulations!

A life long fisherboy is born!

It was a great day and I wanted to share it with all of you. Here are some of the pictures from the day including my new Iowa friends! Can't wait until next year!

1 comment:

  1. Maybe you need to change the color of your hooks. Think they could tell you are from Minn. by your accent?