ANDREW PETERSON of Elk River, with his 2.88 lb. bass at the Eagle Lake fishing contest.
It’s a love of labor - these winter fishing contests - and nobody seemed to be enjoying the opportunity more than the Eagle Lake Improvement Association, which hosted their annual get-together Saturday. The temperatures had improved from frigid readings of the days prior, the sun was high in the sky, and everybody seemed to enjoy the moment, very occasionally punctuated by an “I got one.” Several hundred were out on the ice. There were lots of “I got ones” registered during the afternoon, but none of the species coming through the ice would have been an ideal Hollywood play - the leading fish by weight mid-contest was a carp. Then, there was Win Watts of Farmington, with his three-inch perch. Well, it was worth a prize. Winners are listed below. This year’s contest was special for the Eagle Lake folk, because warm weather and bad ice cancelled their tournament of a year ago. There were lots of costs involved and no income and that made for lighter coffers for the group to carry on their environmental deeds for the lake. But there was no place warmer than around the food table inside the main tent - The Hard Water Cafe, which featured some really hearty and tasty belly-warmers like chili and goulash, fresh and steamy-hot from the kitchen of Joanne Peterson from the south side of the lake. Joanne estimates with the two roasters full of chili and goulash, 300 fresh-made brownies and other stuff, she had produced 120 pounds of food for sale at the gathering. “I’ve been doing this for eight or nine years,” she delighted in telling the Tribune. She was obviously proud of her work and for the good ends it would bring to her lake association. And she was likewise proud of her Hard Water Cafe staff, which included a couple of family members traveling all day Friday from Northern Minnesota to get back to Eagle Lake so they could help. Meanwhile, nearby a giant St. Bernard lazed on a warm bed, petted by admiring contest kids. And on the other end of the tent with the men with the real mens’ job - to register and weigh in the prizes from out on adjacent ice flat. Andrew Peterson of Elk River beamed with his nice 2.88-bass, which came through the hole about 1 p.m. Lowell Jensen of Eagle Lake was reported to have nailed the prize-winning carp. Meanwhile, Haley Boyer, 12, Coon Rapids, lazed away under a blanket and paid little attention to her bobber - staying warm was most important. Haley was there with her parents, Ron and Heather Boyer and their local host, Penny Boyle, whom everybody knows, she says, as the “lunch lady at the school.” Barb Jensen, her brother, Lowell (the one with the fish), Mason Brown of Big Lake, Tim Jensen and Jeff Olson of Otsego were among the fish hunters. Winners with the biggest fish are as follows: first place went to Sean Schultz with a 3.9 pound northern; second place was Bryan McDonelly with a 3.8 pound northern; third place was Lowell Johnson with his 3.7 pound carp; Joss Wolf took fourth place with a 3.6 pound northern; Andrew Peterson was fifth with a 2.8 pound bass. Aaron Washburn won a gum ball machine for being the first child to catch a fish. Amanda Jensen won a pair of silver hoop earrings for being the first woman to catch a fish. Todd Lieder won a fish display for catching the smallest fish. Raffle winners were David Larson, who won the overnight stay at Grand Casino Mille Lacs. Lowell Jonson won $200 in cash. Mark Dougherty won four Chanhassen Dinner Theater tickets. charlie Birck won $100 in cash. Paul Ebert won a camping equipment package. Fifty eight door prizes were given away and 148 pounds of food was gathered for the big lake Food Shelf. “We would like to thank everyone who came out and fished and especially all the businesses that donated so generously to our contest,” said Sue Jones. “We could not have been such a success without their support. It was a bit on the cold side, but 93 total fish were weighed, lots of hot food was sold and everyone had a good time,” she said. “Also, thank you to everyone who donated non-perishable food items to the food shelf.”