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

Chamber Blog

Monday, January 26, 2015

January 2015 - Resolve to celebrate winter


The new year begins as a disappointment to snowmobilers and cross-country skiers, but there’s snow in the forecast. Fingers crossed.

The ice on area lakes is thick after a string of overnight temperatures well below zero. Some ice houses have been out for weeks. Bait shop owners can tell you where the best spots are to snag a fresh catch.
Once the white stuff arrives, snowmobilers will find hundreds of miles of groomed trails through scenic forests and networked between destinations where there are places to pause for a meal and warm up. Cross-country skiers also can look forward to hit the trails at Soaring Eagle north of Park Rapids, in Itasca State Park and through the Shingobee Recreation Area between Akeley and Walker.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources updates snow and trail conditions in weekly reports posted after 2 p.m. every Thursday at www.dnr.state.mn.us/snow_depth/index.html.

Our winter lodging facilities are open no matter what Mother Nature brings. Warm up by the fire or in the pool, hot tub or sauna and enjoy the area’s fine dining, fun shops and more to do.

If you time your stay, you can sample one of the following fun winter activities:

Lantern lit skiing/snowshoeing events and naturalist programs are on the winter calendar at Itasca State Park. For details about winter activities in the park, call 218-699-7251 or go to www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/itasca/calendar.html.

Menahga’s Family Fishing Day on Spirit Lake offers an afternoon of fishing fun Saturday, Jan. 17. There are games and attendance prizes, too. A $5 ticket will win a lucky angler a fish house provided by Smokey Hills Outdoor Store.

Register for the Heartland 106 Snowmobile Race (USXC Snowmobile Racing) or plan to watch this exciting event. Racers will sweep through forests and lakes and experience the natural beauty of the Park Rapids Lakes Area Saturday, Jan. 31 and Sunday, Feb. 1. Saturday’s race will be a 25-mile ditch and lake course. Sunday’s race will be a one-lap,100-mile woods race. Races start at 9 a.m. both days on Highway 34 at the east edge of Park Rapids. There are 21 classes of racing from junior to pro, open and vintage. Racers must be pre-registered online at usxcracing.com by 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 29 or onsite at the North Ambulance Garage, just east of the Super 8 in Park Rapids between 5 and 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 30. This is a spectator sport; see the fastest show on snow.

Tickets are on sale for the 17th Annual Park Rapids American Legion Community Fishing Contest on Fish Hook Lake from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7. The contest offers more than $110,000 in prizes. Grand prizes in this year's raffle are a 2015 Chevy Silverado 1500 pickup truck truck and an Ice Castle fish house. Other raffle prizes, including $1,000 cash prizes, will be awarded. Polaris ATVs top the list of prizes in four of the five fishing contest divisions: bluegill & crappie; northern, walleye & largemouth bass; perch; rock bass and white fish. The awards presentation starts at 5 p.m. at the American Legion. In conjunction with the fishing contest, the American Legion also sponsors a Friday night welcome dance and Saturday night Fisherman’s Ball. Tickets for the fishing contest at $40 each are available at the American Legion or call 218-732-3360. For more information, go to www.parkrapidsamericanlegion.com.

The Chamber Website provides information about trail riding and cross-country skiing possibilities as well as available lodging, dining and other things to see and do while you’re here. If you’ve resolved to celebrate winter and need help planning a memorable and affordable visit or if you have questions, call our friendly staff at 800-247-0054 to learn more.

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Park Rapids Lakes Area Fishing Report & Tournament Guide

Park Rapids Area Fishing Report and Tournament Guide
Submitted by Smokey Hills Outdoor Store
1/23/2015

Winter has given us a break this year by holding back the snow and frigid temperatures making movement on the ice easy. Watch for the various ice heaves splitting the area lakes as they have swallowed a few vehicles, especially on Leech Lake. Walleyes have been more tightly lipped in recent days but the successful anglers have headed slightly deeper; catching fish in up to 30 feet of water. Early morning using yellow or green KenKatch™ glow in the dark “Slim Slams” or a plain green Northland™ hook tipped with a rainbow minnow are the best set ups to put fillets in the deep fryer. It’s been an above average year in the way of monster pike and musky being caught locally. Drop a sucker minnow down 6 feet over 15 to 30 feet of water for the best chance of catching a wall hanger. They are snacking ferociously on tulibees that often live just below the surface of the ice over deep water. Crappies have been hitting the heavy weight tungsten “Toad” jig by Lindy™ when tipped with a wax worm. We are one of the largest Ice Castle dealers worldwide and our selection changes daily. Stop by the store for the most up to date fishing tips, tricks and hotspots. We hope to see you very soon!

Sarah Hanisch pictured with a recently landed and released 52” musky!
Photo courtesy of Smokey Hills Outdoor Store. 
           

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Friday, January 9, 2015

Park Rapids Area Fishing & Ice Report Submitted by Smokey Hills Outdoor Store - 1/8/2015


The New Year has arrived and the ice is getting safer by the minute. Fish Hook Lake now has up to 21” of good, clear ice. Long Lake east has up to 24” of ice although the access at the north end has an ice heave making it impassable for vehicle travel, the access at the south end is clear and safe for travel. Walleyes have been feeding most heavily from 3 to 6 pm. Jig a glow in the dark KenKatch™ Tackle “Slim Slam” to get their attention. We now have shiner minnows at Smokey Hills and they have been the key to turn fishing into catching this week. The crappie bite has improved and we are seeing great results on VMC™ tungsten jigs tipped with a wax worm. Head to 14 to 25 feet of water after dark to get a few for the frying pan. It’s not too late to order your Ice Castle for the upcoming winter festivals! Stop by the store for the most up to date fishing and ice reports. We look forward to seeing you very soon!
Area semi-pro fisherman Tyler Wolden pictured with his recently landed 27” walleye.
He caught this fish in his 2015 Ice Castle. 
Photograph courtesy of Smokey Hills Outdoor Store.



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Monday, December 29, 2014

Park Rapids Area Fishing & Ice Report
Submitted by Smokey  Outdoor Store - 12/27/14

Ice conditions are improving by the minute on the Park Rapids area lakes. The ten day forecast predicts below zero overnight temperatures which will add thickness to the ice and make the fish more active. The majority of Fish Hook Lake has ice 11 to 15 inches thick, Island Lake North has 12 to 14 inches, Long Lake East has 11 to 16 inches, Portage Lake has 17 inches of good ice, Belle Taine has 10 to 14 inches and Potato Lake has 12 inches. Peak fishing times have been varying widely depending on the specific lake. Fish Hook Lake has been producing a decent rate of walleye catch at a rather odd time, 1 to 3pm in 10 to 15 feet of water. Upper Bottle Lake has been doing very well from 3 to 6 pm on the flats on the north end in 5 to 10 feet of water. The cold front has the pike very active. Find them snacking on panfish around the cabbage weed beds in 12 to 16 feet of water. KenKatch™ Tackle Company’s “Boss Jig” has been the hottest lure in the cold water for the active walleyes. Stop by the store for lake specific fishing and ice reports. We hope to see you very soon!


Cheyenne Platz pictured with her enormous walleye caught just north of Smokey Hills Outdoor Store on 12/26/14 (Photo courtesy of Smokey Hills Outdoor Store)

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Park Rapids Area Fishing & Ice Report
Submitted by Smokey Hills Outdoor Store, 12/18/14

The Northwest winds have finally sent the fog migrating south with the birds; as temperatures are now on par with a regular mid-December Minnesota winter. We are back on track and making ice by the minute. The “hard water” conditions were less than desirable with the recent warm weather, but the water on the top side of the ice has now re-frozen. Fish Hook Lake has ice up to 15 inches thick while Big Sand Lake has been reported to only have 3 to 6 inches. Long Lake (east) has up to 13 inches on the South end while the North end has 6 to 9 inches. The elusive walleye are not so elusive in recent days if you are willing to beat the sunlight in the morning. A plain hook, weight, light line and rainbow minnow has been enticing big ‘eyes to bite in 7 to 12 feet at daybreak. The musky action is hot on Mantrap Lake and they are attacking very large sucker minnows in 6 to 10 feet of water. Bluegills and large perch are easiest to find and catch on Upper Bottle Lake, North of Park Rapids. Stop by the store to get your Ice Castle Fish House accessories and the most up to date Park Rapids area fishing report. We hope to see you very soon!
A small, but pretty Park Rapids area crappie pictured. Photo submitted by Nathan Campbell


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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Park Rapids Lakes Area Fishing & Ice Report - December 9, 2014


Park Rapids Area Fishing & Ice Report
Submitted by Smokey Hills Outdoor Store, 12/09/14

Winter is in full swing on the Park Rapids area lakes. Most lakes have 12 or more inches of good, solid ice. Cars and light trucks have been driving on the “hard water” in front of the Fish Hook Lake public access as there is up to 15” of ice for the first four or five hundred yards. Ice Castle Fish Houses dot the flat, icy landscape and the locals are fishing around the clock. Remember that no ice is safe ice and bring a local guide with before venturing out as many lakes have currents and springs that will keep the ice from forming. Walleye angling has been excellent from 2pm to 7pm. KenKatch Tackle Company’s™ “Boss Jig” and the all new “Slim Slam” have been producing strikes when tipped with a rainbow minnow head. Largemouth bass, northern pike and bluegill fill the Aqua-View™ TV screen during the daylight hours and the action is lively on most days. Stop by the store to get your Ice Castle Fish House accessories and the most up to date Park Rapids area fishing report. We hope to see you very soon!

Hendri Ernst pictured with his recently landed area walleye.
Photo courtesy of Smokey Hills Outdoor Store.




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Monday, December 1, 2014

December 2014, Wrap up your plans for a stay up north


The holiday season is upon us with all the extra things on our to do lists. We hope your plans include a trip to visit us. A weekend or a week here to embrace the joys of the season, experience nature and take life at a different pace may be the best gift to you and yours.

At the beginning of December, we have a blanket of snow. A little more will bring snowmobilers, cross-country skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts the Christmas gift they want most. The lakes have enough ice that we see fish houses popping up here and there.

Music and theater add to the season’s joy. The Park Rapids Classic Chorale will present concerts Dec. 5 and 7 and the Northern Light Opera Company will stage Amahl and the Night Visitors Dec. 12, 13 and 14. Six performances of Christmas Belles, a Jones Hope Wooten comedy, are planned at Long Lake Theater, too.

Or visit the 2nd annual Sweets, Treats & Treasures event Dec. 6 with more than 100 kinds of sweets and treats including Scandinavian specialties. Visitors are always welcome to share the culture of those who live here.

The Park Rapids Downtown Business Association is sponsoring a Friends & Family Sale Dec. 5 and 6 with extended hours, some refreshments and friendly service. For those who shop here, the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce Jingle Bells Sweepstakes offers thousands of dollars in prize money. Participating businesses are giving customers a ticket for each $10 spent in their stores up to 10 tickets per purchase. The lucky winners will be announced at a Gala Celebration Dec. 11 at Century School. Hundreds of people gather at this annual community evening of food, live entertainment and a visit from Santa.

All season, Park Rapids’ giant tree brightens Main Street on winter nights and stands as a symbol of small town cheer and good will, lighting the way to a New Year.

Take time in December to immerse yourself in the season’s small town charm or celebrate the arrival of a New Year. If you need help planning a memorable and affordable visit or if you have questions, call our friendly staff at 800-247-0054 to learn more.

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