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Larry Franke wins Ice Fishing Challenge

Brandon, South Dakota native Larry Franke doesn't fish a lot of ice tournaments, but he had the right touch in Saturday's Alexandria Ice Fishing Challenge on Lake L'Homme Dieu.

Franke took home the $20,000 top prize out of around 3,500 anglers with a 2.71 pound Northern he brought through the ice almost an hour and a half into the tournament. He caught the fish with a perch colored 1/4-ounce jig with a shiner minnow in about 10 feet of water. Franke's fish was .02 ounces bigger than second-place ($5,000) finisher Bill Wadd's Northern.

"It's just starting to sink in," Franke said just minutes after the tournament ended. "My knees are shaking."

Franke lost two other minnows in the same hole before the winning fish grabbed his jig and held on. It came through the hole cleanly, a good thing considering when Franke went to take him off the hook the fish had already worked its way free.

Franke told his wife on the way to Alexandria that a new truck would be a good way to spend the money if he won.

"So we'll see how that goes," he said with a smile.

Zach Engel took home $2,500 for rounding out the top three with a 2.55 pound Northern. Ethan Jenkins won the $5,000 first-place raffle prize. Jeff Kuhn won the $1,000 second-place prize and Jason Johnson rounded out the top three raffle winners for the $500 prize.

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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