Doug Smith

Even if the fish aren’t biting, the ducks aren’t flying and the pheasants aren’t flushing, Doug Smith says any day spent outdoors is a good day. A Minnesota native, he’s been covering the outdoors for the Star Tribune since 1995. He considers walleyes fried over a campfire to be gourmet cuisine.

Despite cold, Walker's International Eelpout Festival was a hot success

Posted by: Doug Smith Updated: February 27, 2014 - 11:13 AM

Scott Swanson of Golden Valley caught the biggest eelpout, an 11.98-pound dandy. With him is Jason Freed, a guide with Leisure Outdoor Adventures, which runs the contest.

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Cold weather reduced turnout but not the enthusiasm at the International Eelpout Festival last weekend on Leech Lake.

An estimated 9,000 to 10,000 folks showed up for the 35th annual event at Walker. Anglers registered 340 eelpout that weighed a total of 1,134 pounds. Scott Swanson of Golden Valley caught the biggest eelpout, an 11.98-pounder.

Chelsea Brunklow of Sartell caught the second largest, a 11.29-pounder.

But perhaps the most excitement occurred Friday night, when a fire destroyed a fish house and nearby pickup truck on the ice. No one was injured. Here's YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qw2HUkeVHB8

Here's a photo, below, of Chelsea Brunklow and her fish.

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