Brainerd, MN: Despite the frigid wind chill and wind gusts of up to 50 mph, an estimated 10,500 people attended the 23rd Annual Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza on Gull Lake Saturday. Participants from as far away as India and France were on Gull Lake trying to ‘catch the big one’ in hopes of winning more than $200,000 in prizes. At 12:02 p.m. the first angler entered the weigh-in tent and registered a 0.2 lb. perch.
Bror Linnerooth from Brainerd, MN landed the winning fish – a northern pike – weighing 4.41 lbs – in 35 feet of water using a hook and a fathead. When asked how it felt to catch the winning fish Linnerooth said, “I never thought it would be me. I knew the fish was going to make the prize list, but first place is unbelievable!” He will go home with a new Ford or GMC pick-up truck. In 100th place, taking home an Ice Castle Fish house, was Wade Breer of fergus Falls, MN He caught a walleye weighing in at 0.49 lbs. When asked about winning the Ice Castle, Breer said, “I am out of breath and speechless. What a great ending to a day spent with some of the greatest people in the world!” There were 551 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 Cori Wrobel, the chairperson of the tournament this year. She said, “We had another incredible year! The ice conditions cooperated, the crowd was wonderful, and we just can’t thank all of the volunteers and contestants enough for participating.”
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 $2.8 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.