Combining ice fishing, worthy causes

Fishing hall-of-famer "Tackle" Terry Tuma will again be a featured guest at Holes 4 Heroes.

Ice thickness is big news when it comes to this event.

But then again, what isn’t big news in the Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza?

It’s reportedly the largest charitable ice fishing tournament in the world, drawing around 10,000 anglers annually, and it’s been covered by most every major media outlet of note – regionally, nationally and even internationally. Participants come from across the region, the U.S. and overseas, and this year’s total prize package again is estimated at close to a quarter-million dollars.

Recently, it was announced that this year’s event – scheduled Saturday, Jan. 27 – will go off as scheduled: A check of conditions reportedly found 18 inches of ice across the 250-acre tournament site on Gull Lake’s Hole-in-the-Day Bay just north of Brainerd. That’s deemed enough to hold all those people and, as a result, the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Department issued a permit for the event, which helps support more than 50 Brainerd area charities.

In the next week or so, the Extravaganza won’t be alone when it comes to combining ice fishing and worthy causes. These other events might not be as extravagant as the Extravaganza, but each has a style and vibe all its own.

The first of a two-part ice fishing “series” in the Twin Cities also is scheduled Saturday, Jan. 27 – Holes 4 Heroes West is slated from 1-4 p.m. on Medicine Lake in Plymouth. Pre-registration runs until 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 26 ($10 for one hole, $15 for two), and tickets also may be purchased on the ice the day of the event ($15 for one hole, $20 for two).

A week later (Saturday, Feb. 3) on the other side of the metro, Holes 4 Heroes East is scheduled on White Bear Lake. Pre-registration goes until 6 p.m Friday, Feb. 2 (cost is the same as the West event).

Both events are open to the public and designed to honor military types, both here and abroad. Military members, both current and former, and their immediate family members are invited to fish for free, and deployed military personnel will also have the opportunity to enjoy the event with their families, via simulcast, as those family members fish the “Hole of Honor.”

A pair of fishing hall-of-famers also will be on hand: “Tackle” Terry Tuma, a frequent contributor to Outdoor News, and Steve Pennaz.

The series is hosted by Fishing For Life, a non-profit organization formed to serve Twin Cities families and communities through fishing and outdoor programs. For more information and to register, click here for the West event and here for the East event.

Fishing mecca Lake of the Woods is again the venue for the annual Justin Knebel Memorial Ice Fishing Tournament on Feb. 3.

Also Feb. 3, the eighth annual Justin Knebel Memorial Ice Fishing Tournament is scheduled about 350 miles north of White Bear Lake – on Lake of the Woods’ Zippel Bay, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Like the Holes 4 Heroes events, the Justin Knebel Memorial is a prize-filled event that continues to grow in popularity and supports a worthy cause – the Justin Knebel Memorial Scholarship Fund for athletes at the University of Minnesota-Crookston.

Tickets are available for $20 by contacting Derek Martin at 218-281-8436 or event host Zippel Bay Resort at 800-222-2537. The event is limited to 225 entrants.

And, as a special side note, entrants are invited to a gathering after fishing at the famed Igloo, next door to the tournament site on Zippel Bay.

An ice fishing extravaganza, indeed.

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