Organizers in Brainerd, Minnesota are preparing Gull Lake for a veritable stampede. Estimated to draw in crowds of over 10,000 anglers, the Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza is considered the largest of its kind and helps raise money for local charities. The fishing itself will only take place for three hours on January 25, but it takes many hours of hard work by hundreds of volunteers to hold the contest.

There is no need for anglers to bring ice augers, or jostle for position. Holes are drilled into the ice with military-like precision by nearly 400 volunteers. To make sure there is enough room for everyone, 20,000 holes must be finished before the fishing begins. It costs about $45 to enter the competition and whether one is an amateur or ice fishing veteran, participants say they come for the spectacle.

“Its more than just a contest, it’s a gathering of people that only get to hang out once a year,” said one angler on the contest’s Facebook page.

Others enthusiastically chimed in about the quality of the fishing, making new friends, and enjoying the outdoors. The prizes are also attractive, worth about $150,000 in total value. One lucky angler will be going home with a Ford or GMC pickup, while others could snag an Ice Castle fishing house or Artic Cat four-wheeler.

The frigid temperatures that have been sweeping through much of the country are good news for the contest, providing a solid 12 to 16 inches of ice on the lake.

“Although it has been a cold couple of months, we are very excited that the conditions are favorable for the Extravaganza,” organizer Matt Castle said in a press release. “Planning has been smooth and we are looking forward to another successful contest.”

You can read the contest rules here.

Image courtesy Office of Governor Mark Dayton

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