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Chilly yet successful Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza

Web posted January 31, 2023
Despite the chilly weather in the lakes area, the Brainerd Jaycees experienced a smashing success on January 28th, 2023, for the Ice Fishing Extravaganza. Preliminary estimates indicate that nearly 12,000 people were in attendance at the world’s largest charitable ice fishing tournament Saturday for the 33rd annual Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza. Contestants came from across the country, including New York, California, Tennessee. A few contestants even flew from Australia and France in order to be a part of this extraordinary event!

As the sun came up, anglers began to arrive, claiming their spots on the ice. A record was set the day before the contest, with one hundred volunteers drilling 14,300 holes in two hours. Chairman Tad Johnson states, “Our team is so excited to see thousands of our best friends on ice. We are so thankful to our sponsors and volunteers that helped make this event run smoothly this year!”

Around 12:04 p.m. the first lucky angler entered the weigh-in tent amongst a crowd of excited onlookers. At about 1:53 p.m, 13- year-old Zac Padrnos of Minnesota was fishing in about 50 ft of water with his tungsten jig and 3 pound test line when he felt a hit of what he thought was a tullibee, but in the end with adrenaline running he ended up reeling in a fish of a lifetime, a walleye. Winning his choice of a Ford F150 or GMC Canyon courtesy of Mills Automotive Group. Zac caught a 9.45 lb Walleye and chose the Ford. In 100th place, Logan LeClair caught a.76 Walleye and will be bringing home an Ice Castle Lake of the Woods at the end of his trip to the Brainerd Lakes area.

There are two notable characteristics about this event – it is entirely run and organized by volunteers, and 100% of the proceeds are donated to charities. The Brainerd Jaycees invest nearly 25,000 volunteer hours in the year-long planning of the contest. Amongst the 350 volunteers was this year’s chairperson, Tad Johnson. He states “I am honored to be a part of such a great organization that has the ability to have such a large community impact.” The largest beneficiary is Confidence Learning Center, an outdoor education facility for individuals with cognitive and developmental disabilities. The Brainerd Jaycees have donated over $4.3 million to more than 75 different charities since the first Extravaganza in 1991.

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