BRAINERD, MInn. -- A northern pike measuring 40.5 inches was the largest fish caught during the Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza, a virtual event that resulted in organizers needing more than 53 hours to verify the weekend results.

In light of this year’s unprecedented format, the No. 1 ranked largest fish and the winner of the grand prize — a GMC or Ford truck — were separate entries, unlike prior competitions. Concerns that the virtual tournament would weaken oversight by organizers and encourage cheating, the Jaycees instead established the major prizes at random points on the leaderboard to discourage fraudulent entries. In turn, fish were judged in terms of length, instead of weight as in previous years.

Tournament judges examined and authenticated more than 10,500 photos of 4,198 fish from all over Minnesota to determine what deserved to be on its 500-slot leaderboard, as well as the recipients of prizes scattered throughout.

While 2021’s participation was down compared to recent years — over 4,700 took part Saturday, while the event typically draws around 10,000 — the number of fish submitted for competition set a new record. Six species of fish were greenlit for competition this year — northern pike, walleye, perch, sunfish, crappie and tullibee.

Here are the three most notable entries in which northern pike dominated:

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  • The largest fish caught this year was a 40.5-inch northern pike hooked by Chuck Betterman at 2:46 p.m. Saturday, which was good for a 50-quart Maluna cooler.

  • The winner of the grand prize truck, slotted at the 128th spot this year, was a 28-inch northern pike caught by Mike Ringer at 2:04 p.m Saturday.

  • The winner of an Ice Castle Mille Lacs LT was a 22.25-inch northern pike caught at 1:15 p.m. Saturday by Marvin Forbragd at the 500th spot on the leaderboard.

Visit https://bit.ly/3tkjXEw to view the full leaderboard.