Bowling Up Minnesota way, I’ve watched Carhartt-clad cronies tumble frozen turkeys–which provide more bad hops than a punt in January at Lambeau–at a trio of pins during the Eelpout Festival. More than 10,000 brave souls unite there each February for the ultimate cabin-fever reliever. A basket-ball, volleyball, or dodgeball would suffice were poultry unavailable. If you’re a purist, you can actually use a bowling ball.
Having One! My personal favorite: When one of my buddies calls “game on,” we reel up and let our lines down simultaneously. Hook a fish and the cry goes out in our silliest Midwestern accent: “Having one!” The last to put a fish on ice must take a penalty shot, ingesting either schnapps or bait. Lay out the ground rules beforehand to establish what will go down the hatch.
Fish Tag You take the little fish that you’re going to keep (my crew usually uses the smelt we catch at night), and then you hurl them at the back of your buddy’s head. Now he’s “it.” No immediate tag backs allowed, of course. Pretty simple. Another version: Wait until someone exits the shack for a spell and leaves his jacket behind. Stash some bait in a pocket. There will be no question of who’s “it” if he doesn’t wise up before he goes home. You get bonus points if he finds the dried-up critter on your next outing together.
The Sauna It’s amazing how hot it can get inside a fish house. Crank up the temperature with lanterns and heaters, then resist turning it down until everyone’s in shirtsleeves and still complaining. First one to crack loses. He’s now fair game for verbal abuse for the rest of the trip.
STRIKE An icy lane cleared on Minnesota’s Leech Lake.