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Fishin' for a Ford: 13-year-old angler wins pickup at Brainerd ice fishing contest

Zac Padrnos of Hutchinson was fishing in 50 feet of water on Gull Lake when he latched onto a 9.45 lb. Walleye, good for first place and a new truck.
Credit: Brainerd Jaycees - via Facebook

BRAINERD, Minn. — Late Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Tom Petty could not have been more on the money. 

The waiting IS the hardest part. 

Imagine being a dedicated outdoorsman, having a brand spanking new Ford 150, and not being able to drive it. That's the scenario 13-year-old Zac Padrnos is facing for the next three years or so, after having won the pickup over the weekend in the 2023 Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza. 

The Jaycees' Facebook page chronicles how the Hutchinson teen was one of nearly 12,000 anglers that took to the surface of Gull Lake near Brainerd in search of a fish that would net them a grand prize. Just before 2 p.m. Zac was fishing in 50 feet of water, using a tungsten jig and 3-lb. test line when something hit. 

Zac reportedly thought it was just a tullibee, a smallish inland whitefish, but he was thankfully wrong. Instead, he pulled a 9.45 lb. Walleye through the hole, earning him first place in the Extravaganza. As grand prize winner, Zac was allowed to choose between a Ford F150 or GMC Canyon pickup, courtesy of Mills Automotive Group. He apparently is a Ford man. 

So what's going to happen to the truck over the next three years, until Zac is old enough to get his Minnesota driver's license? “I have no clue,” Padrnos told the Brainerd Dispatch Saturday “We’ll have to figure that out later.” 

In truth, Zac wasn't the only winner Saturday. The event drew anglers from all over the globe, from as far away as Australia and France, and raised tens of thousands for local causes. In fact, the Brainerd Jaycees say over the Extravaganza's 33-year history, more than $4.3 million has been raised and donated to more than 75 different charities.  

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