Brainerd Jaycees Prepare For Annual Ice Fishing Extravaganza
Volunteers were out on Hole in the Day Bay on Gull Lake today drilling holes for the annual Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza. Thousands of people will be on the lake tomorrow during the largest charity ice fishing tournament in the world.
Every year, nearly 10,000 anglers from across Minnesota and beyond travel to Gull Lake for the Brainerd Jaycees Annual Ice Fishing Extravaganza.
“If they’ve never come out here and seen what the chaos is, it’s fun just to come out and see 10,000 people out here on the ice,” said Clint Meyer, Ice Fishing Extravaganza Chairperson. “It’s a small city.”
This is the 29th year of the fishing tournament that features over $200,000 in prizes and activities for anglers and spectators to enjoy.
“They go pick their hole and then they come back to center ice, do vendors, look at all the stuff that’s around, products, stuff like that. We’ll have kind of a gathering up on stage right before the gun goes off and then it’s game on,” added Mayer.
Crews were out today in subzero temperatures drilling around 20,000 holes and setting up for the tournament, which begins at noon sharp tomorrow. The tournament is put on by the Brainerd Jaycees, with all proceeds going to local nonprofits with Confidence Learning Center being the primary recipient.
“It was initially started to help economic impact in the Brainerd Lakes Area in the wintertime because we are so busy in the summertime; in the wintertime the economic level kind of goes down a little bit and we donate to 50-plus charities. The biggest one being where I actually work, the Confidence Learning Center, is a huge beneficiary so it’s awesome,” said Benji Thoennes, Brainerd Jaycees President.
At noon tomorrow, anglers will race to see who can catch the biggest fish and win one of the 150 prizes.
“The number on prize is the truck, F150 or GMC. There’s about seven four-wheelers scattered about the prize board so it’s kind of the luck of the draw. 100th place is an Ice Castle fish house,” explained Meyer. “So whoever gets that, everybody watches for that one.”
The tournament is a highlight for anglers every year and has a huge economic impact on the Brainerd Lakes Area.
“It’s a huge party on the ice. Everybody loves to come out. Even if you’re not fishing, come out join the party. Fish get caught, tons of fish, so it’s a great deal,” added Thoennes.
Tickets are still available for the tournament and can be bought at the event for $50.