Talk about hard times.

The Forest Lake VFW Fishapalooza Ice Fishing Contest has been canceled because of the poor economy.

"We had a couple of snafus with a couple of sponsors and decided to back off one year and regroup,'' said Jim Woods, who, with Dan Luger, launched the contest last year. "We'll hit it hard in 2010.''

About 4,000 anglers fished it in 2008. It was a reincarnation of the long-running Golden Rainbow Ice Fishing Contest on Forest Lake, for more than 20 years one of the largest winter fishing contests in the nation.

That contest struggled after it was canceled several times because of poor ice conditions, and in 2007 the Hopkins Area Jaycees, which ran it, pulled the plug. Forest Lake anglers Woods and Luger then launched their contest to fill the void.

"When we started this contest, the only thing we thought we had to worry about was having enough ice," they wrote in a note at www.icefishing "We never imagined the poor condition of the economy would force us to cancel, but it has.''

Brainerd contest a go

Meanwhile, the big Brainerd Jaycees 19th annual Fishing Extravaganza -- billed as the largest ice fishing contest in the world -- still is set for Jan. 24 on Gull Lake. For information, see

Sportsmen's Show

The 39th annual Minnesota Sportsmen's Boat, Camping and Vacation Show runs Wednesday though Sunday at St. Paul's RiverCentre. Admission is $9; children 6 to 12 get in for $2.50; younger kids free. For information, call 763-755-8111, or go to

Doug Smith •