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A black hole on Gull

The decision to postpone the Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza is looking better by the day.

A day after the 22nd annual Extravaganza was postponed from Jan. 21 to Feb. 11, a fly-over Friday on Gull Lake — site of the fishing contest — showed a massive hole in the ice on Gull and several other large areas with just a very thin layer of ice.

Erick Hoglund, chief deputy of the Cass County Sheriff’s Department, and Tim Collette, DNR conservation officer, led a small contingent that flew over Gull after reports that an ice fishing house had dropped through the ice. From the air, the good-sized shanty was a mere speck in the open water that about stretched from Sandy Point to Love Lake, Hoglund said.

“It stretches about a mile east and west and is about a half-mile wide,” Collette said. “It starts on the west side in front of the Quarterdeck (Resort) and goes across the main body of Gull.”

Collette said there also were three other smaller — but still good-sized — holes that “had skimmed over (Thursday night) and have thin ice. One is skimmed over north of the big hole and (the others are) west and south of the tournament site. I would guess each are two to three acres.”

The Extravaganza is held on Hole-in-the-Day Bay near the northeast edge of the lake. A check on ice conditions about 10 days ago found 11 inches of consistent ice; 15 inches is needed for Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl to issue a permit for the event. But that open water elsewhere on Gull, which has been reported in recent weeks, was a big reason the event was postponed for the second time in the tournament’s history (2002). It also was moved to nearby Round Lake in 2006. But that wasn’t an option this year as most area lakes also have less ice than usual this time of year.

“Lots of fish houses have been pulled off the lake (Gull), which is good,” said Collette, who along with Hoglund urged anglers and winter recreation types to use great caution on Gull and other area lakes.

“We can’t put enough signs up,” Hoglund said of trying to keep people off the ice.

BRIAN S. PETERSON may be reached at brian.peterson@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5864. To follow him on Twitter, go to www.twitter.com/brian_speterson. For his blogs, go to www.brainerddispatch.com.

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