Tracking tweets, hashtags, and keyword phrases (such as #winter fishing, #ice fishing, #fishing, #fishinglife, #fishingtrip, #gonefishing), the crew at Boat Safe found the most tags originating in the Upper Midwest, with Minnesota leading Wisconsin and North Dakota.
Minnesota people love to be on the water regardless of the temperature. Seeking everything from the hallowed walleye to a mess of sunfish, about 10 percent of Minnesota’s 1.5 million license-holding anglers head onto the ice each year. No surprise, really, considering that Minnesotans own more boats per capita than anywhere else in the USA. They love their 10,000 lakes.
If you watched the now-classic “Grumpy Old Men,” which was filmed in Minnesota, you know that each January and February, entire fishing villages pop up on area lakes, complete with warming houses fed by a network of plowed ice roads from shore. These seasonal towns take on names like “Frostbit Flats” and “Iceington.” And don’t think that the locals haven’t named mayors of these towns, because they have. It’s about fishing, but it’s also about fun and community.
From Lake Mille Lacs, a 207-square-mile lake that produces more walleye than all of the state’s hatcheries combined, to spectacular Lake of the Woods on the Canadian border, ice fishing is part of northern living culture and also a big-buck tourism industry.
Interested? The Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza is held each year–the world’s largest ice fishing event–with thousands of people gathering to compete for $200,000 in prizes. Or try the Annual International Eelpout Festival in Walker, Minnesota, which celebrates what is called the world’s “ugliest bottom-dwelling fish.”If you’re less inclined to fish than to discover winter, try the Twin Cities Art Shanty Project, in which artists create ice houses that are more architectural whimsy than shelter. You can get a breath of fresh, icy air and test out your ice legs. Perhaps you’ll even see some people fishing.