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Authorities: Stories Of Sex On Ice May Be Fish Tales

February 18, 1988 GMT

GARRISON, Minn. (AP) _ Stories abound that prostitutes frequently visit ice fishing houses on Mille Lacs Lake, where as many as 10,000 men gather on winter weekends, but authorities say they may just be fish stories.

″Personally, I’ve never run across the hooks, but I remember they were supposed to be working the lake back in the ’60s,″ said Jerry Anderson, a fishing guide on the large central Minnesota lake whose shoreline includes this town.

″At least it makes a nice story. January and February can be a real boring time of year up here,″ he said.

But Jim Forbord, a state conservation officer who has worked the lake for nine years, said he wouldn’t be surprised if truth is found in one of two theories: Prostitutes peddle their wares fishhouse door to fishhouse door, or they do business in their own fishhouse.

″When you check houses you run into everything under the sun,″ he said. ″You don’t know if they’re girlfriends, boyfriends, wives or what. Sometimes I have to let them pull on a blanket before I come in.″

Authorities say no arrests or prosecutions on prostitution charges have been made in any of the three counties that include parts of the lake.

Last fall, however, an Aitkin County sheriff’s deputy investigated a report that two local women were operating as prostitutes on the southeast shore, said Sheriff Bill Sobey. The report seemed credible, but there wasn’t enough evidence to make an arrest, he said.

″I used to always figure it was just talk,″ Sobey said. ″I’ve never had a fishhouse myself, so I’ve never had a chance to find out.″

He believes authorities would know if prostitutes were active in the area. ″You’d hear something. People talk,″ he said.

Crow Wing County Attorney Stephen Rathke said, ″I’d heard of it for years and I guess I’ve always assumed it was true because it’s so logical. You know, literally thousands of men in these little fish houses.″

This winter, there are nearly 4,000 fish houses on the lake, giving the frozen lake a bigger population than any of the cities on its shore.

″You’ve got to realize you get a real rowdy crew out there,″ said Anderson. ″There’s gambling, seeing who can drink the most. Maybe that’s how the stories start.″

Forbord has his own theory about the stories: ″Fishermen like to talk a pretty good brag. When you spend all weekend staring at a bobber, you start thinking about something else to do.″