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Root River Saloon on thin ice?

Fri, Feb 18th, 2011
Posted in Sports

These boys from Adams, Minnesota caught this 16 inch Northern just before the tournament ended on Saturday, February 5th. Photo by Josh Presson

On Saturday February 5th, The Root River Saloon hosted its 2nd Annual Ice Fishing Contest at the Lanesboro Bass Pond in Lanesboro. Over 100 people turned out for the event. In what was an absolutely beautiful day, this writer got to see firsthand what ice fishing is all about. I must say, I loved it.

My first experience walking on frozen water started with wobbly legs and uneasiness as I took my first steps towards what I was sure was going to be a cold and embarrassing tumble. To my amazement, I only slipped once but didn't fall. As I walked to the holes that were drilled hours before any of the contestants showed up, I was thinking, I can't believe people enjoy doing this. Although it was warm by current standards, it was still cold; I told one of the fishermen, "At least the wind is not blowing." He responded, "You are not exactly dressed for the outdoors." Looking down, and then around, I realized he was right, most people were in boots, heavy coats, and hats. I was wearing my usual light jacket, tennis shoes, and a beanie.

I walked around awhile checking out all the people, mostly just learning the ins-and-outs of this kind of fishing. I love fishing in the spring and summer. I don't even like walking to my truck in the winter. Most of the people I talked to said this is their preferred way of fishing. As I was walking around, I found the person I was looking for, my mom. At about noon, she called and said, "You have to come see this, it's so cool." As I was walking towards her, she looked up smiling and exclaimed, "I caught a fish! I caught a fish!" My initial thought was, "Where did she get that little pole from?" We talked awhile and she gave me the pole. I put the line in the water. Instantly, I wasn't cold, bored, or unhappy. There was something about staring at that hole that completely relaxed me.

I have fished in the pond a time or two since I moved to Lanesboro, but I have never caught a fish bigger than my pinkie. Apparently, I have been using the wrong bait. I was on the lake about an hour, and although I didn't get an exact count I would guess I saw 15-20 northern pikes get pulled in. Mom and I didn't catch anything big. She said, "It's like sitting at a slot machine and everyone around you is winning." I laughed. The fish were quickly carried to a table measured and then released. It was awesome. Having only ever seen one northern before, I was shocked to see so many at once. Obviously the most caught fish were the sunnies and crappies. Most of which were the size of my palm, but the people who were catching them seemed amused enough.

Registered participants got a prize for the first fish they caught, so there was an added bonus to getting outside and enjoying the day. Unfortunately, I was unable to stay for the entire tournament so I don't know who won. I left with about 15 minutes left in the tournament and the biggest fish by species was a 24.5 inch northern, 11 inch bass, and 8 inch crappie. I don't think it mattered if you caught "the big one" as my mom likes to say; everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.

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