11,000 anglers vied for over $200,000 in prizes at the Brainerd Jaycee’s 25th annual Ice Fishing Extravaganza.
Gull Lake, Minnesota near Brainerd was again the home of world’s largest charity ice fishing contest. Unseasonably warm weather for Jan. 24 brought out a thousand more participants than last year for the three-hour event.
Steven Baumgartner of Owatonna, Minnesota took home big fish honors and a new GMC 4×4 truck for weighing in a 6.73 pound northern pike. Second prize was a new Arctic Cat ATV.
Among the hundreds of special prizes in honor of the 25th year of the event were a $2,500 bonus for 25th place, and ATVs for the 50th, 75th, 100th, 125th, and 150th place finishers.
Volunteers cleared a two square mile area of the frozen lake surface the day before the event, and drilled 20,000 ice fishing holes. Anglers could move from hole to hole, as did Mr. Baumgartner. He started fishing a shiner deep before choosing another spot.
”I wasn’t having luck at 26 feet, so I thought I’d give it a try in shallow water, and that sure worked.”
A record 1,240 fish were weighed in at the 2015 contest. The top seven fish were either pike or walleye. The most commonly weighed fish were tulibee, the local name for cisco, or lake herring.
The annual event generates nearly $1 million in business revenue for the Brainerd area and $150,000 for area charities. The Confidence Learning Center, an outdoor recreation facility for the developmentally disabled, will be the largest beneficiary of the 2015 event. Since the event began in 1991, nearly $3 million has been donated to over 50 local charities.
Next year’s event will be held on Jan. 23, 2016. Get more info at the event website.