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Extravaganza still a go, in spite of iffy ice on Gull

All was mostly quiet Tuesday at the small colony of ice-fishing houses on Gull Lake’s Hole-in-the-Day Bay.

That might have been due to the cooler weather that arrived very early in the day and was expected to linger for much of the week.

That’s not so good for those enjoying the ultra-mild temps as of late, but great news if this colony is indeed expected to become more like a metropolis in four days.

And that’s still the plan.

Despite the balmy weather recently, with cooler temps on the way, Saturday’s Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza is still a go.

Tuesday’s high reached about 20 degrees in Brainerd. Highs will near 30 degrees Wednesday and Thursday, but Friday’s high is only 13 degrees, with a low of 7-below.

“With a couple cold days in the next few days, we’re hoping on that,” Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl said Monday night. “We’re hoping for a successful event. It sounds like it’s a go.”

The 22nd annual Extravaganza was postponed from Jan. 21 due to iffy ice conditions on Gull Lake. Dahl and the Crow Wing Sheriff’s Department checked the ice again Jan. 25 and found 18-plus inches of consistent ice across the tournament site, prompting Dahl to issue a permit for the event that day.

Another check Thursday found more of the same, and Dahl said he wasn’t sure if the ice would be checked again in the days leading up to the tournament. He said the Extravaganza could still be cancelled up to the date of the event, but didn’t expect it to come to that.

This year, the ice at the tournament site on Hole-in-the-Day Bay hasn’t been the problem. Rather, it’s poor ice at other points on Gull that has been a concern.

“The best answer is the ice is never safe, and this is not a good year for ice at all,” said Tim Collette, a local DNR conservation officer. “Between the thin ice and the ice heaves, it hasn’t been a good year on Gull. The tournament site has been checked over good and there’s good ice there, but the rest of the lake is so hodgepodge.

“We had (an ATV) go through there on Saturday,” Collette said of the north side of Gull — the Extravaganza site is on the northeast side of the lake. “It was trying to cross one of the ice heaves. That’s what I’m afraid of. And the guy said he followed tracks, so someone else had been there and didn’t go through. That’s what scares me. There’s tracks and the next person assumes it’s safe.”

According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Highway 371 traffic will be a single lane at Gull Lake to allow for a shuttle bus/vehicle drop-off site during the event. Contest participants and spectators are encouraged to use the shuttle service.

“We’re encouraging everyone to shuttle in (to Hole-in-the-Day Bay),” Dahl said. “We’re restricting using the accesses as far as driving out on the lake. There are some real poor areas. We don’t want anyone to wind up in the water.

“There are so many of them on Gull,” he added of areas of concern on Gull. “Certainly in the channel areas, and there’s open water by the Quarterdeck (Resort). It’s kind of hit and miss. ATVs and snowmobiles are better off than a full-sized vehicle. We don’t want them venturing into areas they don’t know about. We encourage them to do some checking if they do go that route and we strongly encourage them not to drive out there at all.”

Tickets may still be purchased and will be available at the tournament site the day of the event. For tickets or more information, go to For updated traffic, weather and travel information, go to

BRIAN S. PETERSON may be reached at or 855-5864. To follow him on Twitter, go to For his blogs, go to