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Hookers on ice?

MILLE LACS LAKE, Minn. -- The biggest fish tale ever to come off Mille Lacs Lake may be the one about paid hanky-panky going on in the thousands of fishing shacks that dot the lake each winter.

The Mille Lacs hookers appear to have entered the realm of what sociologists call urban legend -- a tale that doesn't really need to be verified to be widely believed.

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'Personally, I've never run across the hookers, but I remember they were supposed to be working the lake back in the '60s,' fishing guide Jerry Anderson told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis. 'At least it makes a nice story -- January and February can be a real boring time of year up here.'

For years, the story has surfaced that prostitutes have plied their trade on the frozen lake where some plush fish houses have such niceties as beds, refrigerators, stoves, televisions and stereos.

Authorities say there very well may have been isolated cases of prostitution on a frozen lake where as many as 10,000 men gather on winter weekends. But if it's going on now, it hasn't been detected by authorities.

Aitkin County Sheriff Bill Sobey said late last fall one of his deputies investigated a report that a pair of local women were selling sex in the area, but they couldn't get enough evidence to make an arrest.

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'I used to always figure it was just talk,' Sobey said. 'I've never had a fish house myself, so I've never had a chance to find out.'

Jim Forbord, a state conservation officer, said he wouldn't be surprised if the story is true.

'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.'

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