The World’s Best Fishermen Came to Rhinelander

Boom Lake was Team USA’s home ice for the 2010 World Championship

The World’s Best Fishermen Came to Rhinelander

This story is part of a larger series on ice-fishing culture. To read all series posts, click here.

The collective athletic ability on the ice that day was something unequaled in one location outside the Olympics.

The 2010 World Ice Fishing Championship brought the greatest ice anglers in the world to Boom Lake — Rhinelander, USA. The former communist Eastern bloc were well represented. Poland, Latvia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Estonia, Lithuania and Ukraine all brought their best to Rhinelander, along with Sweden, Finland, Canada and Team USA. 

To be fair, it was a pretty cool event. Teams here from across Europe were here representing their countries, and a lot of people turned out for the Parade of Nations through downtown Rhinelander that Friday night. I tried unsuccessfully to trade anything I had for one of the Russian competitor’s team hats. He wouldn’t because his country had no extra official ice team gear and he had to be properly uniformed. At least I think that’s what he said.    

I was covering the event for what was then The Daily News in Rhinelander. I believe the headline on the first story I ran was Cold War.

At the time, I think most people who’d spent any significant amount of time ice fishing this lake thought it was pretty comical: bringing in “the world’s best” to fish a lake most people who live here won’t waste their time on. But it’s actually a solid lake for crappies and bluegills, and that’s what the would-be world champions were targeting. For everything else it’s somewhat laughable, at least in winter. It’s fished primarily for convenience.

It was also humorous that people were traveling across the world and competing to bring the title of greatest bluegill fishermen back to their home nations. Nonetheless, the organizers put on a great event and the competitors certainly knew what they were doing on the ice. Their tackle and techniques — using tiny little palm rods like these from Akara — were different than anything I’d seen. They’d sprint from one hole to the next trying to catch as many fish as possible. 

After two days of competition in what I recall were very sloppy conditions, the underdog team from the United States emerged victorious on its home ice, standing above Poland and Latvia on the podium.

And yes, the headline on that story was Miracle On Ice.

This story is part of a larger series on ice-fishing culture. To read all series posts, click here.


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