BROOKLYN, Mich. (WLNS) — COVID-19 restrictions have postponed another event in the Brooklyn, Michigan area.

The Midwest Open Ice Fishing Tournament – a tournament believed to produce the largest ice fishing payout in the country – will not be held on Sunday, Jan. 31.

Midwest Open pays the winning two-man angling team $20,300 for the eight heaviest crappies and eight bluegills (total weight) each year.

“I thought about all of the logistical elements of putting on a safe tournament and felt very comfortable with the plan,” organizer Tom Knutson said. “I failed to think about two things when I said we would go forward.”

Knutson was not able to get a permit from the state of Michigan for the event. Restrictions do not allow a gathering of 25 or more in Michigan due to COVID-19 regulations from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

“I argued that it is not a party … this is ice fishing,” Knutson said. “I believe it is the perfect social distance winter sport.

“But it became obvious very quickly it was going to be a losing battle.”

The annual tournament draws participants from more than a dozen states and Canada. A weigh-in at a local high school brings a packed crowd to see who takes the title and the big check.

Knutson said the Canadian teams could not cross into the United States and New York anglers were not going to come because they would have to quarantine for two weeks once they arrive back home.

“I know everyone was looking forward to this event because we have had to cancel the last two years,” Knutson said.

The tournament pays out more than $35,000 in cash and merchandise for participants. More than 150 two-man teams were expected to participate in the annual tournament.

Details on the 2022 Midwest Open Ice Fishing Tournament will be available at in the coming weeks.