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Where the mighty Mississippi begins, and adventure never ends...

Chamber Blog

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Weekly Fishing Report - April 2, 2014


Weekly Fishing Report
Submitted by Smokey Hills Outdoor Store

As the temperatures are predicted to rise into the 50’s over the course of the next week, the bite will be progressively more active in the Park Rapids Area. The lakes will re-oxygenate as the sun melts the surrounding snow and ice. The panfish bite has gone from lazy to crazy in the course of a few days. Northland’s™ “Rippin’ Shad” will attract the active crappie. You will find them moving into shallower waters to feed. Optimum depth is 14 feet and the time of day will be less important as the melt water continues to energize the fish. Attach a minnow head or wax worm to the front treble of the “Rippin’ Shad”, they will attack the lure head first. Go to the sand flats to find a bucket full of massive pre-spawn perch. Drilling multiple holes may be necessary to find the randomly swimming schools. Depths of 4 to 10 feet will hold the lion’s share of the jumbo perch. Any of the size #12 or #14 tungsten jigs such as the Northland™ “Mooska Jig” tipped with a wax worm will do the trick. In early spring you will often find the bluegills feeding alongside the jumbo perch. If you aren’t finding success on the sand flats for bluegill, just move to slightly deeper water 14 to 20 feet of water. Stop by the store for lake specific hot spots and hot tips. We look forward to serving you soon!

Nathan Campbell with brother Brad Campbell showing off their 12" to 13.5" perch.
Caught on March 31, 2014 "in Hubbard County".
(Photo courtesy of Smokey Hills Outdoor Store)

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April 2014 - Chasing Spring

April 2014
Chasing spring

As a friend says, the first day of spring is not the same as the first spring-like day. We wait for the snow to leave, the lake ice to melt and the loons to return.

Like gardeners deciding which seeds to start indoors and which ones to sew later, community groups gather to plan for summer and organize festivals and events for everyone to enjoy.

With summer closer now, it’s time to plan your vacation. The Park Rapids Lakes Area is truly a destination to explore whether you are from out of town or out of state. Natural areas and forests surround pristine lakes. The Mississippi flows from the mighty river’s source in Itasca State Park. The Lake Country Scenic Byway stretches from Itasca to Park Rapids, west past the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge to Detroit Lakes and east through the Chippewa National Forest to Walker.

Resorts and other lodging accommodations in the Park Rapids area invite guests to stay at the center of this extraordinary region and will help visitors realize their dream vacation whether it’s lying on the beach with a good book, venturing out to explore the local landscape or timing a stay to take in local festivals or cultural events.

The Chamber website can also assist with your trip planning with suggestions for day trips, attractions and dozens of ideas for things to see and do.

If you don’t want to wait for summer, April can be a quiet time for a leisurely visit to see nature in transition, shop or just relax.

It is part of life here that we are optimists at the beginning of each new season and its progression of change. Our accommodations become your personal retreat and our wonderful community is your home away from home.

If you need help planning a memorable and affordable visit, need more information about the area or have questions, call our friendly staff at 800-247-0054 to learn more.

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Weekly Fishing Report - March 21, 2014


Weekly Fishing Report 
Submitted by Smokey Hills Outdoor Store
The Park Rapids Area Fishery has been putting smiles on the faces of local anglers as the bluegill, perch and crappie action is heating up. Don’t be afraid to start moving to shallower waters; as the lakes re-oxygenate, the crappie will move as shallow as 6 feet of water to feed. Mantrap Lake is still the lake to set up shop for continuous action while Two Inlets Lake is producing the big crappies, but they are not as plentiful. Tie on a KenKatch™ Boss Jig™ and tip it with a minnow head or wax worm if you are after a bucket full of jumbo perch. Set up camp on the break-line on or near a point in 6 to 10 feet of water, be prepared to be on the move and drill multiple holes. The drilling often attracts perch and moving to find the feeding fish may be necessary. The Crow Wing chain of lakes gives you the best chance of catching bluegills in size and numbers. Very small #14 or #12 tungsten jigs paired with a wax worm will entice the even the most sluggish of “sunnies” to bite. Most any of the weed covered sunken islands on the chain will produce a good day’s catch. Stop by the store to see our ever growing Ice Castle inventory and also get the most up to date fishing tips, tricks, and hot spots from our expert staff. We look forward to seeing you soon!
Brad Campbell pictured here with his recent jumbo perch catch. The bigger of the two fish was 13.35"
Photo Courtesy of Smokey Hills Outdoors Store

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Weekly Fishing & Trail Reports - March 14, 2014


Weekly Fishing Report

Submitted by Smokey Hills Outdoor Store
Thursday, March 13, 2014
Our recent above average air temperatures in the Park Rapids Area have helped to melt snow and re-oxygenate our waterways. Take advantage of an active spring panfish bite; which is now underway. Find a weed bed in 10 to 18 feet of water on the edge of a drop off and start drilling holes, the bluegill and crappie are nearby. Most weeds grow on a lake bottom that is more conducive to holding feed for panfish. Late afternoon is going to be the best time to fill you bucket with fillets. The North end of Long Lake East, the East arm of Potato Lake and Portage Lake are all good spots to find feeding crappies. Tie on a Northland™ Scud Bug™ tipped with a wax worm to emulate the freshwater shrimp that are common prey of perch, bluegill and crappie. The perch are still feeding in deeper waters, 25 to 45 feet, over a hard, gravel bottom. Big Sand, Lower and Upper Bottle Lakes and Lake Itasca are good lakes to target perch. Stop by the store to see our ever growing Ice Castle inventory and also get the most up to date fishing tips, tricks, and hotspots from our expert staff. We look forward to seeing you soon!
Drew Ceminski excited about his sunfish catch on Fish Hook Lake.
Photo courtesy of Smokey Hills Outdoor Store
Weekly Trail Report
Submitted by Forest Riders Snowmobile Club
Tuesday, March 11, 2014

During the past few days, Spring has made an appearance with sunshine and warmer temperatures. Due to the warmer temperatures, the groomers will not be out grooming this week, but the trails are still rideable. The temperatures are forecasted to return to the mid 20s this weekend with a chance of snow predicted on Friday. Keep in mind, there may be trails that are being used for logging...use caution and be safe.

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Weekly Fishing and Trail Report - March 6, 2014


Weekly Fishing Report - March 6, 2014
Submitted by Smokey Hills Outdoor Store

The weatherman is finally predicting some more manageable ice fishing weather. Temperatures in the high 20’s to high 30’s will make fishing from a portable fish house more enjoyable in the coming days. Skandia’s™ Pelkie™ ice jig tipped with a waxie should be affixed to your light line when after the Park Rapids Area crappies. The lakes’ oxygen levels are low from our long, cold winter; which has made the crappie less likely to attack large lures. Tie on a #10 or even a #12 size tungsten Pelkie™ to entice the strike. Two Inlets Lake, Island Lake, Pickeral Lake and Mantrap Lake are all producing some nice fish. Set up over 30 to 40 feet of water during the day-lit hours and move over 15 feet of water at dark or after. Bring your Vexilar™ or Marcum™ flasher as the crappies are feeding suspended at varying depths. The same lure combination will work to catch the area bluegills. The north side of Fish Hook Lake or the west arm of Potato Lake are both good places to find some action. They are feeding in and around weed cover in 5 to 15 feet of water. The bite is light, so a Jason Mitchell™ Meat Stick™ or a spring bobber will be helpful in detecting the fish. Stop by the store and talk to our expert staff for more up to date and lake specific fishing reports. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Peter Anderson caught and released this 14" crappie on a lake just north of Smokey Hills Outdoor Store.
(Photo courtesy of Smokey Hills Outdoor Store)

Weekly Snowmobile Trail Report - March 5, 2014

Submitted by Forest Riders Snowmobile Club
The 2014 season has been magnificent for riding the trails!  The snow base on the trails has upheld well due to the colder temperatures and occasional periods of new snow.  At the beginning of this week, the area received 2 to 3 inches of new snow producing ideal trail conditions for snowmobiling.  Thankfully, the winds have finally died down decreasing the amount of drifting in open areas.  The weather forecast for this upcoming weekend indicates temperatures will be in the lower to mid 20's with snow predicted during the day and into the evening on Thursday, which will create excellent conditions for snowmobiling and enjoying the fantastic Forest Riders trail system!


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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

March 2014, Tired of winter? Embrace it


Tired of winter? Embrace it

Snowmobilers, cross country skiers and those who just enjoy the beautiful landscape are loving the snow Mother Nature delivered this winter. Walleye, pike and bass fishing season has ended in this part of Minnesota, but avid anglers can still enjoy excellent pan fishing here. Subzero nights have kept the ice solid.

Winter’s end is in sight, so leave your grumpy co-workers and neighbors behind and embrace your favorite activity. If festivals are a reason to head out for the weekend, celebrate the Finnish Saint who led the grasshoppers out of Finland March 14-16 in Menahga. St. Urho Days include a parade, dog sled rides, mojakka feed and other fun activities.

With the first day of spring approaching March 20, it’s time to plan for the glorious months of summer, too. Our new Discovery Guide counts the ways to Catch a Memory anytime at the lake, in the woods or enjoying a local celebration.

Pick an activity and go with it: biking, hiking, bird watching, fishing, water skiing, tubing down the river, ATV riding, playing golf, building sand castles, sitting by the campfire, picnicking or just relaxing. Let your imagination be your guide.

Area lodging accommodations can be found to suit your style whether it’s camping under the stars, sleeping within walking distance of a golf course or staying at a cabin on a sand beach. Start here for information on campgrounds, motels, resorts, bed and breakfast inns, vacation homes and a hostel. Most accommodations have Websites so you can peak inside a cabin or read what other guests have to say about their stay. Or, if you prefer, ask for a copy of the 2014 Discovery Guide and page through the information you’ll find inside.

You may want to plan a visit when one of the area’s special events is taking place and now is the time to make sure you are not disappointed. The Chamber calendar is a great resource for scheduling your stay with dozens of festivals and other fun events all summer long. If you’re here between June 19 and August 21, grab a chair and head to downtown Park Rapids for an evening of great bands, a beer garden, kids’ activities and more.

If you need help planning a memorable and affordable visit, need more information about activities or if you have questions, call our friendly staff at 800-247-0054 to learn more.

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ice Fishing and Snowmobile Trail Reports - Feb. 27, 2014


Weekly Fishing Report
Submitted by Smokey Hills Outdoor Store

Walleye, pike and bass fishing season has come to an end in this part of Minnesota. Don’t pack away your ice gear just yet; we have excellent pan fishing in the Park Rapids Area. Tie on a Northland™ Scud Bug™ and use your electronics to locate the suspended crappies. They can be found at varying depths of 15 all the way to 45 feet of water. Find a “sunken island” and drill multiple holes from shallow to deep and then use your electronics to locate the fish. Mantrap Lake has still been the place to go to catch fish in quantity. If you are looking for quality of fish over quantity of fish, try out Island Lake north on Hwy. 71. Head to Lower & Upper Bottle Lakes if you are on the hunt for “hand size” bluegills. The edge of the deep running pencil reeds on the south shore of Lower Bottle lake will put some fish in the pail. Depths of 7 to 15 feet will produce the best catch rate. A small Skandia™ Tungsten ice jig tipped with a wax worm will entice them to bite. Stop by the store and talk to our expert staff for more up to date and lake specific fishing reports. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Photo courtesy of Smokey Hills Outdoor Store
Josh Jordahl pictured on the last day of the 2013 walleye fishing season with a 19" fish. 
Caught on a Park Rapids Area Lake.

Trail Report - 2/24/14
Submitted by Forest Riders Snowmobile Club

The groomers are finishing grooming the trails today and report that the trails are holding up and are great for riding. Groomers have cleared trails where drifting has occurred, but the area is still experiencing some blowing and there may be drifting in open areas...use caution in open areas. The area has not received any recent new snow so "think snow"! Come and enjoy the great Forest Riders trail system!

The Forest Riders Snowmobile Club announce the winners of their 2014 Raffle. Drawn at 8:30 pm on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at the Eagles Club Snowflake Dance.
1. Todd Sanquist won the 2014 Arctic Cat Z120 Snowmobile
2. George Thelen won the $300 Delaney's gift certificate
3. Mark Allen won the $200 Coborn's gift certificate
4. Clint Darchuck won the 1 hour Scenic Flight by Park Rapids Aviation

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