Any good angler living in the northern states knows that fishing doesn't end when the temperature dives and the lakes freeze over solid as concrete. It just takes different equipment and skills, and if you think you're good enough, you could spend some weekend travel time at an ice fishing tournament.
If you're really good, or lucky, and if you don't freeze something valuable, there are awards to be won. The Jaycees in Brainerd, Minn., are advertising $150,000 in cash and prizes at their Ice Fishing Extravaganza in late January. Get an idea of how popular this event is by scrolling down to the aerial shot of last January's contestants spread across a frozen lake.
Learn more about the area and its many bodies of water at Explore Brainerd Lakes where you can check out what's available in places to stay. Click on "Visitors" for a directory of places to shop for tackle and cold weather clothing.
In northern Wisconsin, fishing is a big part of life in Price County and clicking on "Ice Fishing Tournaments" will introduce you to a whole collection of local contests. If you decide to skip the fishing, look at the left side of the page to see what the county has to offer for cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and snowshoeing. Or you could just click on "Lodging" and look for a cozy bed & breakfast or rustic lodge for the weekend.
Michigan has U.P. Ice Fishing for the state's Upper Peninsula, a Web site that offers ice fishing tips, fishing reports and a calendar of tournaments. Total newbies at ice fishing might consider clicking on "Guides/Outfitters" to find someone with experience and equipment to rent who can show you the ropes.
Unfortunately, U.P. Ice Fishing's lodging list was empty when we looked, so you might want to go to Michigan's Upper Peninsula to scan its directory of motels and lodges. And while you're at it, check out their ski and snowmobile reports.
Like a destination a little farther west? The Colorado Classic Ice Fishing Tournament consists of several team events with the Grand Slam set for early January. The venue is Eleven Mile State Park, west of Colorado Springs.
Up north in Montana, the state department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks has a list of ice fishing derbies but the information is a little terse.
And don't neglect the lakes of Canada. For example, the West Nipissing Ouest Ice Fishing Tournament in Ontario is advertising prizes worth more than $100,000 Canadian.
Want to learn a little more about the sport? Go to an outfit called Fishing Minnesota and click on "Ice Fishing 101."