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Eel Pout- Fish it or Kiss it

On a cold winter weekend in February, people will travel from far and wide, on snow and ice, by car and snowmobile to gather together on Leech Lake. I know, I asked myself the same question when I moved here 25 years ago, WHY? To kiss an eel pout is the answer.
For the past 37 years, and for three days every February, crowds that are more than 10 times the population of tiny Walker, Minn. (pop. 1,069) gather on Minnesota’s third largest lake (112,000-acres), Leech Lake, for a festival named for one of the ugliest bottom-dwelling fish, the eelpout. In a state where it is common to embrace the quirky and find great fun in the most unlikely circumstances and weather conditions, this festival is pure Minnesota fun.
Lifestyle Blog BLT names it one of the top 15 weird Midwestern Festivals you never knew existed.

This year’s dates are February 18, 19, 20 and 21. They have outdid themselves this year with the events going on. There is no lack of things to do and try on the ice, including: kids Perch Jerk, Eel Pout 500 racing, Eel Pout Curling, DJ Dance and Karaoke contest, bikini ice fishing show and the Polar Plunge.
The Polar Plunge will happen on Saturday, Feb. 20th @ 1:00 pm. All proceeds go to the Walker Area Community Center. You will want to have your camera ready as some of the most strangely outfitted eel pouters prepare to plunge into the depths of the COLD Leech Lake in the name of charity. For more information on the plunge check out

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With all of this going on, it is easy to forget that it is a fishing contest. Fish Houses are allowed and you will be amazed by some of the unique houses that will be on the lake. There are many different categories in the contest. For a complete list of the rules check out:

You will also want to purchase a button. The Button is needed to be entered in the fishing contest, but it will also get you into many of the locations which feature entertainment. Many love to keep their buttons from year to year as a souvenir. Buttons will be on sale when you get there, but to make sure they don’t run out before you get here, there is a link to order online:
For more information on this festival:

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