I’ve written before that I’m not a huge fan of fishing contests. Most of the time, it’s not appealing to me to turn the relaxing activity of fishing into something competitive. But some friends graciously included me on a trip to a contest in the middle of February that was an experience I’ll never forget: The Reel Fun Ice Fishing Contest on Grand Lake, between Alpena and Rogers City – www.icefishingalpena.
It was held on Valentine’s Day, so we skipped dark chocolate and champagne with our wives for turkey jerky and minnows with a bunch of other people trying to ice a prize-winning fish. And it didn’t have to be much of a fish, either. The winner this year iced a yellow perch that weighed .68 pounds. One of the members of our group made the list of top 30 prize winners with a perch that weighed just over a quarter-pound.
It’s was only 25 bucks to get in, and the funds go to a good cause: the Alpena River Center. The proposed center seeks to “build a healthier Thunder Bay River habitat and promote stewardship through environmental education and research.”
Only 1,000 tickets are sold.
Adding to the excitement this year was weather cold enough to freeze minnows as soon as they were pulled from the water in the bait bucket, which was also freezing fast. The temperature never got out of the single digits, and the wind was a sustained 25 mph, easily, with gusts double that. I’ve never worn so many layers of clothing. I started out laughing at my partners who were wearing snowmobile goggles the entire time we were out there, but it only took a few minutes in that cold and wind to see their point in wearing them. I’ll be adding that to my list next year.
Only one of our group of 10 made it on to the leader board, but no one suffered frostbite, as others did. It was an easy walk to your spot, the holes are drilled for you, and you can’t use ice shacks. It’s plain and simple, and, as the contest advertised “reel fun.” That’s the way I like my fishing.