10,000-plus people on a Minnesota lake makes a party, but don’t expect ice breakers.

Minnesota’s beloved lakes don’t get as many visitors in January, when temperatures take a dip. But on the 27th, thousands will venture onto Gull Lake for the world’s largest ice fishing tournament, the Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza.

For the event, which dwarfs anything in ice-happy Wisconsin, augers drill more than 20,000 holes in the frozen lake, for more than 10,000 anglers to hook, line and sinker the fish below. The winner takes home a new truck.

Sara Dusbabek, a Minnesota resident who’s been attending the charity event for 20 years, says that she’s more interested in camaraderie than prizes. She and her family set up a fishing site with a radio, a grill and even a portable bar.

“We have our own fishing team complete with a team flag,” she says. “We meet different people every year.” ◆

Q: Does the ice ever give way?

A: Even with all those people, trucks and grills, the ice has never cracked in the event’s 30-year history, according to Shane Meyer, event chairperson. “[We] closely monitor ice conditions,” Meyer says. “Safety is our number-one priority.”

‘With the Fishes’ appears in the January 2018 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning January 1, or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

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