A Monster Party At -12° F

Over the weekend, while most of the fishing world focused on 56 elite bass anglers who battled Mother Nature and each other in South Carolina, a few thousand hardy and raucous souls embraced below-zero temperatures in northern Minnesota to celebrate—the glorious eelpout.

Slimy, ugly, with a gaping maw and a tail like an eel, the eelpout is undoubtedly the most unappealing fish that swims in freshwater. But for a few days each year anglers and revelers gather on Leech Lake, Minnesota, to honor and celebrate this unlikeliest of heroes.

The 36th Annual International Eelpout Festival increased the city of Walker’s population by several thousand last weekend, but most of the visitors lived in an on-ice shantytown comprised of manufactured and home-built ice shelters and survived temperatures that dropped to 15 below through the liberal consumption of grain-based beverages.

And some of them actually fished for eelpout in hopes of catching the biggest and the most fish.

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