Anglers from across the area descended on Elysian today.
For over 30 years, anglers have gathered on Lake Francis to fish in a contest that benefits the American Legion. The premise is simple, the largest fish wins. The money collected will be donated back into the community and will help out organizations in Elysian. Local businesses also donated items to help the cause.
Bruce Williams, Commander of American Legion Post 311 says, "Well it's just a social event, a lot of people don't fish, you just come out to have a good time you know. People come every year."
It really was a social event out there. "It's a good sport, because I like going on the ice and it's fun, me and my Dad go out" says Hunter Kleeberger. Friends, family, fish, and warm gear are what you need. Jason Bruns said, "Especially good winter gear, because there's nothing worse than getting cold and then you don't want to go. Lively minnows always help and really good friends, that's what it's really about."
With temperatures in the mid–teens, keeping warm was important. While some built a fire, the American Legion was prepared with their awesome stew. "This is sacred stuff. This is what keeps your hands warm, keeps you warm all the way down" says Brad Butler.
Using the latest in technology, or old proven tactics, fisherman both young and old tried to land the largest lunker. Unfortunately, the fish really weren't biting out there. The champion, Mike Hasher, won with just a small Northern Pike. Definitely a good birthday present for him! "I've been trying to be a champion for a long time since I was younger" says Hasher.
Last year's attendance was down due to the warm winter, but this year with a thick layer of ice on the lake there were many just having a good time.
Temperatures look to warm in the next few days, possibly above freezing, so take caution if you venture out on the ice.