BRAINERD -- For the first time in 31 years since the Brainerd Jaycees have been running their Ice Fishing Extravaganza, you'll be able to choose your lake, and ice houses will be allowed.

The charitable ice fishing tournament is being forced to go virtual this year due to a cap of 250 people being able to gather during the coronavirus pandemic.

Event chairman Benji Thoennes says they normally attract more than 10,000 anglers and they couldn't hold the tournament with just 250 people. So, he says they have partnered with the app FishDonkey to allow anglers to register their fish remotely...

There's no real way to cheat the system because you can't take a picture through your phone's camera and uploaded it through the app. You have to take a picture using the app. The app is then going to timestamp your photo and GPS it so we know that you are in Minnesota and what time you took that photo and uploaded it.

There are six fish species eligible for the contest...walleye, northern pike, sunfish, crappie, tullibee, and perch.

The prizes will be awarded to 150 different fish entries through a random drawing.

Thoennes says each participant will need to buy a ticket and each will have to download their own app with a valid email.

If you bought an advanced ticket before December 7th and don't want to participate in this format, you can mail in your ticket by December 20th in exchange for a ticket to the 2022 tournament.

The Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza is scheduled for January 30th. It's billed as the largest charitable ice fishing tournament in the world with more than $200,000 worth of prizes.

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