PEQUOT LAKES, Minn. (AP) -- With a fresh coat of blue paint and ''Pout House'' stenciled on the outside in yellow, Joey Neznik's and Matt Royer's fish house has taken on a new life.
In preparation for the International Eelpout Festival last week in Walker, the two Pequot Lakes juniors began a renovating adventure that helped bring the Pequot Lakes boys' basketball team closer.
Neznik and Royer sat during wood shop class their sophomore year and contemplated the many structures they could build. After brainstorming, the two decided to construct a fish house.
''We were going to start out with something small but it ended up being a big thing,'' Royer said.
Once finished, Neznik and Royer were the owners of a 12-by-7 fish house complete with four cabinets, a lofted sleeping arrangement and 5 1/2 fishing holes.
The practicing carpenters used the house just once last year at the Eelpout Festival on Leech Lake. Not satisfied with the mobility or the appearance of the monstrosity, Neznik and Royer did some remodeling. With the help of their football and basketball teammates Tony Landecker, Shane Blowers, Justin Biebighauser and Jeremy Wiczek, friend Nick Collette and even a grandmother, the fish house was transformed into a stately lodge.
''This summer we kind of gave it a makeover, I guess,'' Royer said. ''We had put paneling on the inside but when we heated it up and then it cooled down the paneling began to warp.''
In place of the paneling, white plywood adorns the sides of the house with tan wood trim. The door is decorated with a large window, and a welcome mat helps keep the house clean. A mirror, blankets, a picture of someone's girlfriend and a Britney Spears calendar decorate the cozy hideaway. The carpeted floor contains the heat, which was incorporated with the help of an area businessman.
''Lakes Gas helped us out with that,'' Neznik said. ''Roger Varilek helped us get our heater and he hooked it all up for us.''
Blowers used his expertise from his graphic design class to personalize the outside.
''We kind of used all the school's resources here,'' Royer said. ''We have this class called graphics arts and we do things with decals and stickers. Shane printed up a stencil for it and we spray painted it on.
''Everyone kind of pitched in for everything so it's kind of a team thing.''
The fish house's name has no significant meaning.
''We were really at a loss for names,'' Neznik said. ''We had a few different names so we kind of went off of outhouse and came up with 'Pout House.'''
Along with the makeover of the house, Neznik took a metal shop class last fall and built a trailer to make the house more mobile. It took him a semester with help from his teacher. Last year the house was on skids, which made it harder to move.
Neznik even asked his grandmother for help. She, like everyone else, was glad to pitch in.
''She's making some hats for us,'' Neznik said. ''We're going to make our own little town out at the Eelpout Festival. Jeremy's sister is going to make us a flag so it's going to be a little Pequot area.''
Construction of the house has set back Royer and Neznik about $500 apiece. When asked what would happen to the house after the two graduated, Royer laughed, saying it probably would end up in Neznik's parents' yard.
''My parents don't want it in their place,'' Royer said. With a rollout hide-a-bed for comfort and a card table for the slow times, the ''Pout House'' offers the guys a place to relax and get away from the pressures and worries of basketball.
About once every week the six basketball players transform into fishermen in the house they built. Their only care is when the next fish will swim by.
''Oh, fish, that's been kind of a problem,'' Royer said. ''Tony was out there a couple weekends ago and actually caught something. He got a 4-pound northern. Other than that, fish have been kind of hard to come by.''
Fishing isn't always about catching fish, Royer said.
''It's about being out, having a good time and hanging out with friends. I always thought if you add the element of actually catching a fish it just makes it twice as fun.''
(Distributed by The Associated Press)
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