A chunky representative of the state’s top game fish — a 4.73-pound walleye — made the grandest entrance of all Saturday at the 24th Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza on Gull Lake.

The big walleye was pulled through the ice by Art Karskoy of nearby Nisswa, Minn. He braved near-single-digit temperatures during the noon-3 p.m. competition to win first prize, a new pickup truck.

Karskoy was joined by a throng of winter anglers that numbered perhaps as many as 10,000, each bundled in layers of winter-defying clothes that included heavy boots, thick parkas, ski masks and even Superman outfits.

Karskoy barely edged second-place winner Daniel Schwanke of Hutchinson, Minn., whose fish — also a walleye — tipped the scales at 4.17 pounds and won Schwanke an ATV.

The event was held on Gull Lake’s Hole In The Day Bay, where as many as 20,000 holes were predrilled. Contestants were allowed to use electronic depth finders, or fish locators, as well as underwater cameras.

Tip-ups also were allowed.

Northern pike weighing 2.49 to 4.09 pounds completed the five biggest fish caught. One was pulled onto the ice by Ivan Lyogky of Hartville, Ohio.

The 150th-largest and final fish weighed — a .26-pound perch — won Scott Clark of Bagley, Iowa, a new ATV.

Other prizes included Ice Castle fish houses.

All proceeds from the contest will be donated to area nonprofit organizations, including the primary beneficiary, Confidence Learning Center, an outdoor center for people with developmental disabilities.

Most fish caught during the contest were released live back into the lake after being weighed and registered.

 

Dennis Anderson