Ice is forming on Minnesota lakes, and it won't be long until hard-water fishing kicks into gear.
Meanwhile, winter anglers are gearing up for another season.
That's what they'll do this weekend at the 20th annual St. Paul Ice Fishing and Winter Sports Show, which begins Friday at St. Paul RiverCentre.
"It's the largest ice fishing show in the country," said Laurie Hallowell, director of operations. "The beauty of ice fishing is the price points: You can spend as little or as much as your budget allows. We have everything from small tackle or lures to $85,000 fish houses."
Hallowell expects about 19,000 anglers and 190 vendors to attend.
Among the attractions this year is a "fillet queen" contest where women will compete in a fish-filleting contest. For more information on the show, see stpaulicefishingshow.com.
The St. Paul show no longer is the only game in town. This year the National Sports Center in Blaine held its first Hard Water Ice Fishing Expo on Nov. 16-18.
About 5,100 people attended the inaugural show, said Barclay Kruse, communications officer for the center.
"We were delighted," he said. "We're absolutely going to do it again next year. In fact, we're going to expand our space."
The expo had 50 vendors, and already another 20 have signed up for next year, Kruse said.
Is there room in the Twin Cities for two ice fishing shows?
"It's a small market, we'll see," said Hallowell.
But Kruse said officials in Blaine believe both shows can be successful.
"We're not trying to be as big as the St. Paul show -- we don't have the space, history or tradition," Kruse said. "But I think we can fill a role. We want the St. Paul show to be successful," he said, because if ice fishing businesses succeed, both shows will benefit.
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