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Virtual ice fishing competition attracts tourists to the Northwoods


The Northwoods has received less than half the normal amount of snow this winter, leading to pauses in the normal snowmobiling and cross-country skiing seasons.

That’s hit the local businesses pretty hard, and a St. Germain ice fishing guide wants to do something about that.

WXPR spoke with Jim Lund about how his virtual fishing competition encourages tourism to Vilas and Oneida Counties.

This winter, temperatures have swung from below freezing to into the 60’s and back again with dizzying speed.

“There's no snow, but the ice fishing conditions are excellent. I've been on the water around the ice, like 46 days, just this year,” he said.

Jim Lund is a fishing guide at Living the Dream Guide Service, based in St. Germain.

He knows that this winter’s conditions have harmed tourism in the Northwoods.

And he has a plan.

Earlier this month, Lund held his first virtual Northwoods fishing tournament to attract tourists and encourage support of local small businesses.

His February 10th competition attracted 130 participants, with 104 of them not from the local area.

Peter Stoltman is the owner of Last Cast Fishing Outfitters in St. Germain.

He says that the contest brought in new customers

“People came in and they were interested in finding out about fishing conditions, and they bought bait and maybe some other accessory stuff and that type of thing. So, yeah, it definitely was a noticeable presence,” he said.

“My motivation was, I just wanted to help people. I'd like to encourage people to come up and fish. Just come up and spend some time up here and anything you do, any businesses you go to, they're going to help them,” said Lund.

Lund hosted the tournament on an app called Fish Donkey which allows users to hold virtual competitions.

To join, people bought a raffle ticket at one of the participating local bait shops.

The following bait shops are participating in the tournament: Last Cast Fishing Outfitters in St. Germain, Fisherman’s Outpost in Conover, LT Bait and Tackle in Lake Tomahawk, County Line Station in Minocqua, Tadpoles in Eagle River, Scottie’s Bait and Tackle in Three Lakes, Townline Sports in Manitowish Waters, and Northwoods Store Cenex in Tomahawk.

In the tournament, participants caught their fish, measured them on a board, took a picture, and then released the fish back into the lake.

He’s organizing another competition that is going to be held this weekend.

From March 1st to 3rd, contestants can join the second Northwoods Fishing Tournament by purchasing $30 worth of merchandise from one of the eight different bait shops participating.

From there, they’ll pick up a blue card in the bait shops, which is initialed for every $10 spent.

“The whole idea of this is to try to get people to shoot dollars into the Northwoods,” said Lund.

He’ll announce the winners around 12:30pm on Sunday March 3rd at Last Cast Outfitters in St. Germain.

Lund is going to hold another tournament throughout May called the Last Blast in the Northwoods.

He’s still looking for more businesses to participate.

Hannah Davis-Reid is a WXPR Reporter.
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