More big fishing derbies on tap

Posted Jan. 31, 2014, at 10:05 a.m.

After another frigid week, Maine lakes and ponds are certainly “making ice,” as some ice anglers would tell you.

Luckily for those avid fishermen (and women) there will be plenty of opportunities for them to join others of like mind in the weeks ahead.

Fishing derby season is in full swing, with a full slate of upcoming tournaments on tap.

Here are a few derbies you might want to consider taking part in:

There are plenty of good ice fishing waters in Hancock County, and in one derby, you can be adventurous as you like.

That’s because the G&M Family Market Hancock County Ice Fishing Derby includes all legal waters in the county.

The derby is on Feb. 8-9, and the weigh-in will be held at G&M Family Market in Holden from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. each day.

Adult tickets cost $15 while kids 12 and under can enter for free.

As part of the derby, the Eastern Maine Snowmobile Club will benefit from the raffle of a 2013 Polaris Sportsman 500 ATV.

Prize packages will be given to first- and second-place finishers catching the largest salmon and togue. Cash prizes will be given to those who catch the largest white perch, brook trout, pickerel and bass. Also, a $200 cash prize will be given for the largest accumulated weight of togue. Any togue entered that measures less than 18 inches long will get the angler’s name into a drawing for $200.

The reason for rewarding those who bring in small togue: Several lakes in Hancock County have an overabundance of those lake trout, and fisheries biologists have encouraged harvest in those lakes.

Up in the Milo area, organizers are preparing for one of the state’s oldest ice fishing events — the Schoodic Lake Ice Fishing Derby — is back for its 52nd edition Feb. 15-16. An important side note: Those dates are this winter’s “Free Fishing Days,” during which anglers are allowed to fish Maine waters without a license. That provision only applies to those who have not had their license suspended.

Anglers can also fish nearby Ebeemee and Seboeis lakes, and will compete for prizes worth a total of $15,000. One lucky winner will take home the grand prize, a 2013 Polaris Sportsman 500 HO ATV. The best news: You don’t even have to fish in the derby to win that grand prize. Just buy a ticket for $5 and you’re eligible.

Also up for grabs: Cash prizes for salmon, togue and trout ($200 for first, $100 for second and $50 for third).

And the shore prize list is expansive, including stuff like a two-day guided upland bird hunt for two people, a whale watch cruise, an ice auger, a chain saw, and a Maine cabin rental for two nights.

Proceeds from the Schoodic derby benefit Milo Fire Department Charities. For information, call 943-2303 or go to trcmaine.org.

Those who like fishing farther to the south may want to check out the Sebago Lake Rotary’s Ice Fishing Derbies, also Feb. 15-16.

The big event, Derbyfest, will take place on Sebago and Kezar lakes, and may be the state’s most popular.

While it’s not uncommon to offer huge cash prizes for state record fish that organizers don’t expect to be caught, Sebago itself is known for big togue, and there’s always the possibility that there’s a whopper out there that might surpass Hollis Grindle’s record of 31 pounds, 8 ounces.

If that does happen during the derby, the lucky angler will take home $100,000.

Organizers say a film crew from National Geographic will be on hand getting footage for a new reality show that will focus on ice fishing.

Entry fees are $25 for an individual, $35 for a family consisting of up to two adults and up to four children. A daily limit of six togue has been set during the derby, which is intended as a fish management tool.

Concurrently, the Sebago Lake Rotary will be running a derby on all legal Cumberland County waters.

For information, visit icefishingderby.com.

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