On lakes and ponds all over the state, Maine’s ice anglers are settling in for a busy season of fishing. Some of the hardiest ice anglers are out there right now, huddled in their parkas (perhaps hiding behind the snowmobile they’re using as a windbreak), waiting for flags to fly.
For every ice angler who opts for the spartan, minimalist approach to the sport, there is another who takes great pride in their very own ice castle.
In the St. John Valley, many call these structures “cabins.” Some call them “ice houses.” And many others just call them “shacks.”
Whatever you call your ice fishing abode, we want to hear about it. We want to see it. And we want to reward you for your originality.
I’m happy to announce the first-ever, incredibly spectacular, not-to-be-missed BDN Original Ice Shack Contest, which is being brought to you by Old Town Trading Post.
I know. You’re thinking that I’m laying on the superlatives a bit heavy. Read on, and you might reconsider.
When we started talking about putting together this promotion, all of us here at the Bangor Daily News agreed on one thing: We didn’t want to stage a half-shacked contest.
That simply wouldn’t do.
We wanted big. We wanted bold. We wanted a contest that was so cool, people would line up to enter their own shacks.
And in order to that, we needed prizes.
And that’s what we’ve got.
Thanks to the folks at the Old Town Trading Post — our exclusive sponsor for this contest — we’re going to make three shack owners very, very happy.
The Old Town Trading Post has donated three gift certificates (we originally thought that we’d give out stuff like augers and traps and portable ice shelters, but it makes more sense for winners to take their pick of the outdoor-related gear they need or want the most).
The grand prize winner will receive a $1,000 gift certificate. Second prize will land the entrant a $600 certificate. Third prize is a $400 certificate.
I’m not great at math, but that seems to add up to $2,000 worth of prizes for our three top contestants.
Which brings us to the fun part: What, exactly, are we looking for?
Well, let’s just say this: Wow us. Boring is bad. Original is good.
If your ice shack was built to look like an elephant, or was fashioned out of the fuselage of a floatplane, we’ll likely be impressed. If you’ve got a full-sized kitchen and sleeping quarters for eight, you’ll catch our eye. If your grandfather built your shack out of Popsicle sticks and duct tape, we’ll be amazed.
We have no perfect ice shack in mind. We have no preconceived notions. All we know is, Mainers are pretty creative.
And lots of Mainers love their ice shacks.
A few of the rules:
• You’ve got to send us at least one, and no more than five, color photos of your shack.
• We’ll also expect a brief explanation of why your shack is so bloody great that you deserve a share of the loot.
• You’ve got to be the owner of the shack, which must be based in Maine. In other words, no surfing the Net and poaching a cool photo of a Wisconsin ice palace, or a doozy from Vermont.
• Photos should be current. If we call you and ask where your shack is located so that we can stop by and check it out, there’d better be a shack to visit. And it had better look like the shack in the photo.
• Judging will be arbitrary, but fair. Dave Hanson of the Old Town Trading Post will be on the panel. So will I. Jeff Strout, our Outdoor Editor at the BDN, will likely have a say. If you intrigue or impress or amaze our judges, that’s a good thing.
The contest will run from Saturday, Jan. 15 until Feb. 28. If you want to have your shack considered, you’ve got to enter between those dates.
And how do you enter?
Just send your photos and short explanation to us here at Ice Shack Contest, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402-1329.
E-mail entries won’t be considered.
You can, however, download your photos and description directly to our website. Just click here and you’ll be off and running.
The complete rules are available at the bottom of the ad we’ll be running to promote the contest. In short, they’ll say something like this: You can’t work at the BDN. You can’t be related to those of us that do. The same goes for Old Town Trading Post employees. And you can’t cheat. No matter what.
Other than that, you’re on your own. Get out there. Get building. Get remodeling. Get decorating. Get wiring.
Most important, get creative.
The entries will be posted on our website after we’ve received them, so those looking for some tips (or those shackless souls looking to fish vicariously) can check out the photos there.
And if you’re looking for a few ways to spruce up your shack (or replace some of your aging fishing equipment), don’t forget to stop by Old Town Trading Post and ask Dave for some pointers.