The ice on Hole-in-the-Day Bay of Gull Lake is thick enough to host the ice fishing tournament billed as the world’s largest.
Lt. Scott Goddard of the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Friday afternoon a permit will be issued for the Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza. The event was initially scheduled for Jan. 23, but uneven ice forced postponement to Feb. 6.
Holes drilled on the contest surface showed the center and the western perimeter have 19-20 inches of ice, while the eastern perimeter was 14 inches thick.
“We’re ready to go, we’ve got plenty of ice,” Goddard said. “From the tournament area, all the way to shore, is good ice throughout.”
Goddard said he does not expect any loss of ice between Friday and the contest date.
“We’ve had some warm days, but every night it’s getting down below freezing again,” Goddard said. “Looking at the extended (forecast), it looks like we’ve got three or four days below zero between now and contest time. We’ll be making more ice. I can’t see us losing any.”
After a warmer weekend, the National Weather Service forecasts Tuesday through Friday will see lows between 1 below and 5 degrees.
Goddard said the sheriff’s office will be in discussions with the Jaycees about vehicle travel restrictions, borders of the contest area and buffers around the 15,000 to 20,000 holes to be drilled this week.
“We are going to restrict (traffic) at the accesses. To what extent, we’re not sure yet,” Goddard said. “We’re not going to have as many vehicles out this year, even our command trailer, we’re not going to bring out (on the ice).”
Goddard said there will be more all-terrain vehicles used for travel and the sheriff’s office will look to specifically limit vehicle traffic across the lake to get to the bay.
“We’ve got reports of heaves on the lake, and we know of at least one that’s going across a great majority of the lake,” Goddard said. “We don’t want people traveling across who’ve never been on it before where there could be bad ice or no ice. So we’re going to restrict travel at the accesses throughout, we’ll man that with volunteers just to advise people that we’re trying to eliminate travel to the site and to use the buses that they’re running.”
Angie Nelson, chairwoman of the contest, said she is feeling great about the event proceeding on the alternate date.
“We’re just going to put on a great event, like the Jaycees always do, working to raise funds for our local charitable organizations,” Nelson said. “We’re really just excited.”
Nelson said besides some restrictions on vehicle traffic, there are no other changes expected to the contest from previous years. The same vendors and sponsors are participating as would have on the original contest date. Tickets are still available online at www.icefishing.org, at several ticket outlets and on the ice the day of the contest.
CHELSEY PERKINS may be reached at 218-855-5874 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchChelsey.