Brainerd, MN – In spite of the chilly Minnesota weather, more than 9,500 people attended the Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza on Gull Lake Saturday. The crowd was evidence enough that everyone was ready for the fishing to go on and Tulibees stole the show with 30 of the top 40 fish by weight. Participants from as far away as Australia were on Gull Lake trying to ‘catch the big one’ in hopes of winning $200,000 in prizes.
At 12:06 p.m. the first angler entered the weigh-in tent amongst a crowd of excited onlookers. The winning fish didn’t arrive at the weigh-in tent until approximately 2:30, but Art Karskay from Nisswa, MN, landed it- a walleye weighing 4.73 lbs – caught in 55 feet of water. When asked about his strategy, Art said,” We fished in the same area last year and my son won a prize, so we thought we’d give it a shot again, and I am very excited that it worked.” He will go home with a new Ford or GMC pick-up truck from Mills Automotive Group. Winning the Catch of the Day Extravaganza Give-Away ice fishing package valued at nearly $9,000 was James Bruggeman of Buffalo, MN. His perch weighed in at .58 lbs so he also took home a MarCum LX-3 for 66th place on the leader board. 15-year old Nick Peterson from Brainerd landed the 24th place prize of $2,400 cash with a 1.4 lb tulibee in about 60 feet of water. Fortunately he was fishing with the Special Edition Emerald Shiner Color Lindy Rattlin’ Flyer Spoon, which boosted his prize by $3,000. When asked what he was going to do with the cash, Nick stated, “I’m saving for a truck as I will be getting my license in the next year.” There were 382 fish registered in the three-hour contest.
Hailed as the world’s largest charitable ice fishing contest, there are two notable characteristics about this event, it is completely volunteer run and 100% of the proceeds are donated to charities throughout the Brainerd Lakes Area. The Brainerd Jaycees invest more than 20,000 hours in the planning of the contest. Amongst the 400 volunteers was Matt Castle, the chairman of the tournament this year. He said, “We are thrilled with the great turnout for this year’s contest. The impact on our community is immeasurable, and I am humbled to be a part of it all.”
The largest beneficiary is Confidence Learning Center, an outdoor recreational facility for people with developmental disabilities, but an estimated 50 charities will benefit from the proceeds of the event. The Brainerd Jaycees have donated nearly $3 -million to charities since the first Extravaganza was held in 1991.
All official event information can be found online at www.icefishing.org including a complete winner’s list.