An Eel PoutEach year, thousands of people swarm the quiet winter town of Walker, Minnesota. Walker Bay essentially becomes an extension of the town over Eel Pout weekend. You might be wondering “Eels in Minnesota?” Well, it is technically a type of Cod, not an Eel. Regardless, it looks just like an Eel and the name Pout is fitting for such an ugly fish.

In the early years of the festival, most people had a line in the water anticipating a bite. As more people began attending, the more it has turned into a huge drunken party on the ice. This year was my first Eel Pout Festival experience. I was at the store when a aquantence of mine invited me out on the lake. I asked if I should get my own fishing equipment from home. He told me I wouldn’t need it. I assumed he was going to lend me some of his equipment. On the drive out to his plywood shanty, I saw old school buses, camping trailers, some normal fishing shelters, very unconventional fishing shelters and a mess of people everywhere.

My aquantence parked his truck in front of his shelter. We had arrived! When I stepped out of my car there was so much music and amplified voices it nearly became white noise. We walked to the shelter and opened the door to a small party of people dancing to loud music. There was a recently caught Eel Pout hanging from the ceiling with slime dripping off it. Immediately, I realized that no one here had plans of fishing. After a little bit of chatting we decided to see what was going on around us. We came across a bar in the middle of a giant snow bank. They were serving anything… for free. Most people who had bars set up outside or in their heated shelters were doing this. Just giving away free drinks.

While it was fun watching people (some of them anyway) and having a chance to get out to see what was happening I sensed that things were not as wild as they were soon to be come. It was still early and the sun had just gone down. So, I got my butt out of there.

For Those who Want to Fish
If you are interested in actually fishing in the competition, you could win some great prizes and it was only ten dollars to enter this year (2010) to enter. You can set up your ice fishing shelter far away from the main festival area very easily. Roads are plowed all over the lake, providing easy access to people in cars as well as trucks and ATVs. This year the big prize was a Custom Made Eelpout Fish House to the one with the biggest Pout and thousands of dollars in prizes to several other categories.