Gull Lake --For the second year in a row, one of the shallowest areas of the Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza contest produced the largest catch of the day.
Dan Volbert of Chaska, Minn., drove away with a brand new GMC truck from Mills Automotive Group after pulling a 5.33 pound walleye through the ice about midway through the contest. The fish hit a Rattlin' Rapala ice fishing lure in 5.8 feet of water.
KLICK! Photo Gallery - 26th Annual Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza - 206 Photos by Steve Kohls - KLICK! here to view
"The first five minutes we caught a couple perch," Volbert said.
He brought those up to the weigh-in area. Then at about 1:35 p.m., as the wind was picking up on the 35 degree day, the stars aligned and the walleye connected. Volbert described the catch as a bit hectic as the fish turned sideways trying to keep from rising into the hole.
"I couldn't get it out of the hole," Volbert said. "I thought just don't panic-don't snap the line."
The fish finally surfaced and he realized he had a winner.
"I was very lucky to do it," he added.
Volbert, 54, said this was the second year at the tournament. Last year they set up near the center and caught no fish. This year they headed for the perimeter. A wise choice.
Event chairwoman Angie Nelson noted that this was the only year board members could recall all 150 fish on the leader board were over 1.1 pounds. Other volunteers added that they had never seen so many large walleye caught during the contest.
More than 9,000 anglers registered 980 fish through the three hour contest.
Participants from as far away as Italy were on Gull Lake trying to catch fish in hopes of winning $200,000 in prizes.
Called the world's largest charitable ice fishing contest, this event is completely volunteer run and 100 percent of the proceeds are donated to charities throughout the Brainerd lakes area. The Brainerd Jaycees invest more than 20,000 hours in the planning of the contest.
"It was amazing to see the number of excited anglers on the ice, especially all of the kids out on the ice - it was an incredible site," Nelson said. "Great weather, great event and great day all around."
The largest beneficiary from proceeds is Confidence Learning Center, an outdoor recreational facility for people with developmental and cognitive disabilities, but an estimated 50 charities will benefit from the proceeds of the event. The Brainerd Jaycees have donated nearly $3 million to charities since the first Extravaganza was held in 1991.
More information can be found online at www.icefishing.org including a complete winner's list.
Next year's event is set for Jan. 28, with Brandon Freihammer serving as chairman.
The top 10 fish on the leader board included:
1. Dan Volbert, 5.33 pound walleye
2. Kelly Kopplin, 5.18 pound walleye
3. Jason Neuwirth, 4.59 pound eel pout
4. Shane Lund, 4.25 pound walleye
5. Eric Mettling, 4.08 pound walleye
6. Michael Peterson, 3.8 pound walleye
7. Steve Amberg, 3.78 pound walleye
8. Tony Swenson, 3.67 pound walleye
9. Angie Davidson, 3.39 pound walleye
10. Kevin Dewall, 3 pound walleye