By Ardeana Hamlin
The frozen surface of lakes and ponds, or any legal body of water, in Hancock County will be the place for the Maine Air National Guard MAINEiac Charities ice fishing derby 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16. Registration will take place at Dunn’s Aviation Hangar at Beech Hill Pond in Otis. The last weigh-in will be made at 5 p.m. at the hangar where food also will be available. Registration fee is $10.
Varney Buick, GMC, Mazda is the lead sponsor of the event. Use of the hangar was donated by George and Donna Dunn of Otis.
Guard member Jason Clark of Levant, whose father Brian Clark of Glenburn was one of the founders of the derby back in the late 1980s, recalls attending the derbies when he was growing up. “It was always a great day,” he said. “We want to keep the derby as a family event and that’s why we hold it on Free Fishing Weekend which encourages youth fishing and people to get outside to enjoy the outdoors. No fishing license is needed to fish that weekend.”
After Brian Clark died, the derby fell by the wayside for approximately 10 years until Jason took the helm in 2006. He is assisted in the effort by Scott Fish of Glenburn, whose father Mickey Fish of Glenburn, now retired, also was a driving force behind the derby. “So now getting it organized has come full circle,” Jason Clark said.
One lucky angler in the derby, who lands the heaviest combined weight of togue, will earn a chance to win a 2013 GMC truck. Other prizes will include a Polaris ATV and a jiffy ice auger.
Fishermen who catch the heaviest togue, salmon and pickerel at least 18 inches long, the heaviest brook trout at least 12 inches long and the heaviest white perch or bass of any length will walk away with a $100 first place award. Second place winner will take home $50.
Plaques for first, second and third place will be awarded to children in each fish category.
Greg Burr, regional state biologist, will be on hand with information about fishing regulations and the various fish that will be caught. Maine Warden Service will have representatives at the derby. “They do a wonderful job teaching the public about the outdoors and helping them enjoy the outdoors,” Clark said. “And if there is enough ice there also will be a fly-in on Beech Hill Pond,” Clark said.
The event also will include a 50/50 raffle. Tickets are $1, $5 for six, and may be purchased from Jason Clark, 949-4431; Gerry Martin, 944-5376; Scott Fish, 404-7152; or Chris Labonte, 404-7376 and at the weigh station on derby day.
Proceeds will benefit MAINEiac Charities which provides assistance to Project Graduation, to those who need help with expenses related to medical condition, those who lost homes to fires, or who need heating assistance. “We help with pretty anything you can think of and it’s not just for military families. We get at least two requests each week,” Clark said. “We can’t do what we do without the community. The derby has grown so much because of the support of area businesses.”
Go to the derby Facebook page to access information, rules, regulations and where to purchase tickets.