Most of the time, fishing is a pleasant diversion that offers participants the chance to enjoy the outdoors and spend time on the water with friends.
Some anglers, however, find that a bit of good-natured competition spices up their fishing trips.
Every weekend during the summer, for instance, bass tournaments are held around the state.
For those not interested in hitting the bass circuit, there are many other options available.
Over the coming weeks, a number of high-profile events will give anglers the chance to compete for cash and prizes.
Here are a few options:
Muskies in ‘The County’
Up in Aroostook County, the town of Fort Kent has gained a well-deserved reputation as a community where anything is possible.
Fort Kent holds a major sled dog race each winter, has welcomed the world’s best biathletes and even “celebrated” one winter’s devastating snowfall with a spring snowplow parade.
And for the seventh straight year, the organizers will put on the Fort Kent International Muskie Derby, which will run Aug. 12-14.
“Nothing ever happens on a small scale in this community,” derby organizer Darlene Kelly Dumond said Friday, citing the recent run of severely hot weather, not-so-recent floods, and a slate of annual festivals, races and competitions. “[And] our derby is growing every year because of us growing it with the Ploye Festival. They have a whole bunch of activities going on.”
The annual Ploye Festival runs in conjunction with the muskie derby, and the events draw hundreds of attendees to town.
New to this year’s derby: A bass category.
“From the very first, maybe second year, we had fishermen who were catching bass and they kept asking [for a division for bass],” Dumond said.
The derby features a hefty payout — the prize purse is $35,000.
The entry fee is $35 for adults, $15 for those age 15 and younger.
Dumond said the event has expanded over the past several years from a tourney in which most of the fishing took place on Glazier Lake and on certain productive sections of the St. John River.
“We’re seeing a huge impact through the whole [St. John River] Valley,” she said. “Now it’s not just Fort Kent. Now [we’re seeing] some of the biggest fish being caught in the Allagash River, and in the St. John River from Van Buren up.”
Time to catch and release
Down on the southern coast, saltwater anglers will gear up for the 19th annual Casco Bay Catch and Release Striper Tournament Aug. 21-22.
Billed as the state’s largest striper tourney, the event actually kicks off with a captain’s reception at the Royal River Grille House on Aug. 20.
Anglers will hit the water bright and early on Aug. 21, and the catch-and-release ethic of the tourney encourages the conservation-minded to celebrate their commitment to the health of stripers along the Atlantic seaboard.
To that end, the tournament will benefit the Coastal Conservation Association and the Maine Department of Marine Resources’ research and preservation efforts.
Steve Arnold, the owner of the Yarmouth Boat Yard, is organizing the tournament for the third straight year. He said about 100 anglers took part a year ago.
“We switched last year to catch and release. It used to be a [catch and] kill tournament,” Arnold said Thursday. “Everyone seems to be much happier [with the new format].”
Arnold said participants can fish any Maine waters, including rivers. Anglers will be required to take a picture of each fish they enter in the tourney, with a ruler and the day’s paper also in the frame.
Arnold said that after a couple years of subpar striper fishing, he expects better fishing this year.
“[The stripers] came back a lot earlier this year than last year,” Arnold said. “I’m hearing a lot of good reports from the anglers that use my facility at Yarmouth Boat Yard and people seem really excited about the state of the stripers.”
The registration fee is $50 and includes admission to the captain’s reception. The children’s tournament fee — for anglers age 12 and younger — is just $10.
And though the tourney has the word “striper” in its title, anglers are welcome to target other fish as well: There’s also a bluefish division. Those who want to try their hand fly-fishing for stripers will also have a division of their own. Cash prizes of up to $1,000 are up for grabs during the event.
For more information, go to www.royalriverstriper.com.
Vets invited to fish
For the second straight year the Veterans Appreciation Fishing Tournament will be held in southern Maine. This year’s event will take place on July 31 at Port Harbor Marine in South Portland.
The first edition of the even drew more than 100 vets from across the state. Those veterans represented all military branches.
Veterans are given the opportunity to fish in-shore or offshore. If fishing’s not their thing, they’re welcome to take a harbor cruise and simply enjoy a day on the water.
Organizers have recruited more than 50 people to volunteer their time and boats for the event. Boaters from other marinas are welcome to sign up as captains, and to allow the use of their boats, tackle, fuel and expertise.
For more information, go to www.VetsAFT.com.
This table lists top fishing times and days for the coming weeks. For best results, begin fishing one hour before and continue one hour after the times given. Times apply to all time zones (bulleted items indicate best days).
• Sunday, July 11: 1:35 a.m., 1:05 p.m.
Monday, July 12: 2:30 a.m., 2:05 p.m.
Tuesday, July 13: 3:25 a.m., 3 p.m.
Wednesday, July 14: 4:20 a.m., 3:55 p.m.
Thursday, July 15: 5:10 a.m., 4:45 p.m.
Friday, July 16: 6 a.m., 5:35 p.m.
Saturday, July 17: 6:50 a.m., 6:25 p.m.
• Sunday, July 18: 7:45 a.m., 7:20 p.m.
• Monday, July 19: 8:35 a.m., 8:10 p.m.
• Tuesday, July 20: 9:30 a.m., 9:05 p.m.
Wednesday, July 21: 10:25 a.m. 10 p.m.
Thursday, July 22: 10:50 p.m. 11:20 p.m.
Friday, July 23: 11:45 p.m.
Saturday, July 24: 12:10 a.m.
• Sunday, July 25: 12:35 a.m., 12:55 p.m.
Source: U.S. Naval Observatory data Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services