Each year, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife stages a pair of weekends that are guaranteed to make Mainers flock to our lakes and ponds.
Once each winter, and again during open-water season, the DIF&W allows folks to fish even if they don’t have a license … as long as those anglers haven’t been naughty and their licenses aren’t under suspension.
Called Free Fishing Weekends, they’ve been a hit. And this year’s winter free fishing opportunity is upon us: It’ll be staged Saturday and Sunday on all legal waters in the state.
Over the years, an interesting phenomenon has cropped up during the winter free fishing weekend. Ice fishing derby organizers have long recognized that staging their annual events on a day or a couple of days when anglers wouldn’t even need to purchase a license might bump up the number of registrations.
That’s one reason there are a whopping 27 ice fishing derbies on tap for this weekend. Think that’s just a coincidence? Think again: Last weekend, seven derbies were staged. Next weekend, another seven will be held. But this weekend? You can count it as the busiest competitive weekend of the winter.
And since we’re talking about derbies, why not plan on attending one yourself? You can access the complete state list here.
Or, if you prefer, here are a few spots not far from Bangor you can fish for fun and prizes this weekend.
Over in Bucksport, anglers will flock to Silver Lake for the annual Bucksmills Rod & Gun Club derby on Sunday. The lake produces some pretty hefty bass, and potential derby-winners of various species will be weighed in at the boat landing.
At Pleasant Lake in Stetson, organizers are gearing up for Saturday’s first Lloyd E. Moore Derby. The weigh-in will be held at 13 Amasa Place in Stetson.
An all-weekend affair, Slim’s Fishing Derby, will be staged on all legal waters of Hancock County, with the weigh-in set for the Toddy Pond public landing. A hefty prize pool of $3,400 is up for grabs.
As always, be safe and courteous, and be sure to thank the organizers for their hard work when you leave. Without volunteers from those civic organizations, the events many Mainers have come to enjoy wouldn’t be possible.
Camp North Woods lottery
Back in 2015, in an effort to capitalize on the popularity of the TV show that featured Maine Game Wardens at work, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife opened a summer camp they thought kids might enjoy.
Called “Camp North Woods,” a nod to the “North Woods Law” show that was aired on Animal Planet, the effort allowed children to spend time in the Maine woods, learn new skills and rub shoulders with the “TV stars” they saw on the show.
The DIF&W announced this week that Camp North Woods will be back for a fourth year this summer, and because of the camp’s popularity, an entry lottery will be held to determine which campers get a chance to attend.
The lottery will be held on April 11, and campers are eligible to enter if they have never attended Camp North Woods before, and will be at least 9 years old as of July 15 and no older than 13 on Aug. 3. The entry fee is $5 and all proceeds will go toward supporting the camp.
Camp North Woods will be staged at the University of Maine 4-H Camp and Learning Center at Bryant Pond. A co-ed overnight camp for children age 9-11 will run July 15-20, and a co-ed overnight camp for those 11-13 is set for July 29-Aug. 3. A total of 100 campers will attend each week.
The camp is open to both Maine residents and non-residents, according to a DIF&W news release. Lottery winners will be 70 percent in-state residents and 30 percent non-residents. An equal number of boys and girls will be selected.
Interested parents may sign their children up for the lottery here.
The deadline for entry is April 6 at 11:59 p.m.
John Holyoke can be reached at email@example.com or 990-8214. Follow him on Twitter: @JohnHolyoke