- Associated Press - Monday, January 20, 2014

PELICAN RAPIDS, Minn. (AP) - There are plenty of waterfront bars and restaurants in a state known for more than 10,000 lakes.

But this time of year, the local ‘watering hole’ is open for business on the frozen waters of Lake Lida in west central Minnesota. Among the ice shacks on the lake in Otter Tail County sits Hillbillies Ice Hole, offering camaraderie and a fully-stocked bar. And, no need to stop fishing while sipping a brew. There are a few holes in the floor of the bar for ice fishing. No extra charge for the fish.

Bryce Heaton of Pelican Rapids is a regular customer.

“Well, I think you’ve got to have one drink per fish you catch,” Heaton told WCCO-TV (http://cbsloc.al/1cLSnQD).

Richard Milbeck said he’s caught a wide variety of fish while enjoying himself at the bar, located about 300 yards from a public access point.

“Oh we’ve caught walleyes in here,” Milbeck said, “Northern, panfish, sunnies and crappies.”

Josie Norgren, the owner of the ice bar, grew up in west central Minnesota, where her family sells bait. Norgren also owns Hillbillies Vittles and Brew, a bar in the small town of Erhard, and that’s what led to the smaller version of Hillbillies on Lake Lida.

“We live in the sticks up here, up north,” she said. “We do crazy things like this.”

It’s open only in January and February and only on Fridays and Saturdays. Everything is hauled during the day and hauled out when the bar closes.

“We can’t leave anything here,” Norgren said. “We totally empty this place out at the end of the night.”

Word of the Ice Hole has spread to those who don’t even fish.

“We’ve snowmobiled out here plenty of times,” said Jordin Borders of Erhard.

“It’s not that far from town,” said Darin Dillon of Erhard, “and it’s not far from the trails. (We) swing right out.”

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Information from: WCCO-TV, http://www.wcco.com

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