The annual Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza scheduled for Jan. 21 has been postponed until Feb. 11 due to a concern over ice conditions on Gull Lake, site of the event.
According to Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl, the decision to postpone the popular event, which typically draws about 10,000 anglers, was ultimately made at a Jaycees’ meeting Wednesday night.
Last week, a check on the ice at Hole-in-the-Bay Day — site of the competition — found 11 inches of consistent ice; 15 inches is needed for Dahl to issue a permit for the event, he said. And while colder weather should add to the ice totals between now and next Saturday, there also was a concern about open water recently on other points of the lake.
“They (contestants) will be traveling in and out of that,” Dahl said of the other areas of concern on Gull. “There’s a lot of traffic on the lake and it would be overwhelming for us to monitor that.
“It (the decision to postpone the event) was a joint decision between all of us,” Dahl said of the sheriff’s department, the Jaycees and tournament officials.
“Safety of our participants is the number one concern,” said Troy Imgrund, event organizer. “We also want to give participants enough time to adjust their plans so they’ll join us in three weeks.”
All tickets pre-purchased will be honored on Feb. 11. Tickets will continue to be sold online, and outlets will sell tickets until the day of the event. Contestants stand to win over $200,000 in prizes this year if they catch one of 150 fish. Refunds will not be issued but if ticket holders are unable to attend the 2012 event a voucher for the 2013 event will be given.
First held in 1991, the event has been postponed only one other time, in 2002, and moved to a different lake once in 2006. Hailed as the world’s largest charitable ice fishing tournament, event organizers have donated nearly $3 million to Brainerd-area charities, most notably Confidence Learning Center in East Gull Lake, in its 21-year history. The volunteer-run event is organized by the Brainerd Jaycees.
For more event information, go to www.icefishing.org.