By Stephen Wiblemo
COKATO, MN The Rainbow Sportsmen’s Club is gearing up for its annual ice fishing contest, which will be Sunday, Feb. 14 from 2 to 4 p.m. on Brook’s Lake in Cokato.
The contest has always been a popular draw for local fishermen, but according to the club president, Tim Ellis, it has also become more of a family event in the past few years.
“The last couple of years have been exceptional,” he said. “We’ve had decent weather, it is in town, and we’ve had a lot more participation from people who don’t fish all the time.”
One of the biggest reasons Ellis thinks the contest has started bringing in a more diverse crowd is because it was moved from Cokato Lake to Brook’s Lake, which is a closer destination for local folks.
“It seems since we’ve brought it in from Cokato Lake to Brook’s Lake, there has been a bigger turnout of non-regulars,” Ellis said. “There has been a good family turnout of people who don’t usually fish. You always get the die-hard locals, who come out all the time, but we are getting more and more people who don’t usually come out, showing up.”
And why shouldn’t the contest be a fun event everyone can enjoy? You don’t have to be a pro to have a good time.
The contest will have a junior and senior division. Fishing holes can be drilled for free for people who don’t have their own augers, and free minnows are also provided for bait.
Cash prizes will be awarded for the following categories: First Game Fish ($10); Heaviest Northern ($15), Heaviest Sunfish ($15), Heaviest Crappie ($15), Heaviest Walleye ($15), and Heaviest Rough ($10).
While fishing is the main attraction, the event will also host a raffle drawing. Tickets are $1 a piece, and prizes will be drawn throughout the competition. Prizes range from gift certificates to local businesses, to the top cash prizes of $100, $200, and $300.
“Local businesses have donated prizes. There is a little bit of everything,” Ellis said. “There are some people who come out just to watch that. There are people who come out to catch fish, and it is just a good excuse to get out on the lake.”
A lunch wagon will also be on site to satisfy the thirst and hunger of participants looking for something to eat or drink.
If you are interested, or would like to know more, you can contact Ellis at (320) 980-0460. Raffle tickets are available for purchase from club members, or at the lake the day of the competition.