It’s early, but Brainerd isn’t accustomed to being in this position as a national fishing destination.
Off the radar.
Voting in the Ultimate Fishing Town competition opened Tuesday, and as of late Wednesday afternoon, Brainerd was a distant 54th in the national contest that pays $25,000 to the town with the most votes.
That wouldn’t have necessarily been a problem last year, when Brainerd also fell behind — although not to that extent — early in the voting process. But last year, there were two rounds of voting — the first round by regions, with the top vote-getters from each region advancing to the final round.
This year, there is just the one round of voting among every team that was nominated. Voting runs through May 31, with the winner announced June 6.
Last year, Brainerd rallied and easily advancing to the final round of voting, where it got off to a fast start before fizzling. Baudette — thanks, reportedly, to a relentless push by the Lake of the Woods Tourism Bureau — finished third, which was good for a $2,500 donation for fishing-related causes from contest sponsor the World Fishing Network. Roscoe, N.Y., won last year’s inaugural U.S. contest.
First is again worth $25,000 toward fishing-related causes and a short segment on the winning community on a WFN broadcast, second is $5,000 toward fishing-related causes and third is $2,500.
Brainerd was one of 11 Minnesota towns nominated this year and, as of Wednesday, it was second among the Minnesota towns with 11 votes. Baudette again was the top Minnesota town and again among the leaders — eighth with 169 votes. But it has a long way to go to repeat last year’s unlikely run. Waddington, N.Y., leads with a whopping 1,459 votes, followed by Cape Hattera, N.C., at 876 and Bridgeport, Calif., at 449
To vote for Brainerd, go to http://www.worldfishingnetwork.com/uft/vote/brainerd-mn (make sure your browser has up-to-date Java scripting). You may vote four times every 24 hour — during four six-hour blocks listed at the website. Bonus votes may be picked up via Facebook and Twitter posts and the like, which could help a town make up ground in a hurry.
For more information, go to www.worldfishingnetwork.com.
BRIAN S. PETERSON, outdoors editor, may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5864. To follow him on Twitter, go to www.twitter.com/brian_speterson. For his blogs, go to www.brainerddispatch.com.