After a one-week delay due to the cold weather that had been forecast, the Penobscot County Conservation Association will welcome families to its Brewer property on Sunday for its popular Kids Ice Fishing Day.
Young anglers age 15 and younger are invited to the club (a parent or guardian is required) for a free, fun day of learning about ice fishing on Levasseur Pond, which is a hundred yards or so from the organization’s Brewer clubhouse. The event will run from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.
A decade or so ago, while attending a youth fishing day at Pickerel Pond outside of Milford, then-game warden Jim Fahey and longtime Penobscot County Conservation Association member Woody Higgins thought a similar event near Bangor would be a hit.
The PCCA had a pond of its own near its Brewer clubhouse. Get cooperation and some stocked trout from state fisheries officials, and the kids (and their families) would show up. That, at least, was the plan.
That’s exactly what has happened, and the annual Kids Ice Fishing Day at the club draws a nice crowd every February. Due to the ongoing pandemic, Higgins said this year’s event will be a little bit different than those in the past.
“The club will be available only for bathrooms and potential warmups. Everything will be outside,” Higgins said. “Anyone going into the club will have to wear a mask. Outside, [masks] will be optional.”
An important note: In Maine, masks are required in “public settings.”
For parents who’ve been looking for a simple way to introduce their children to ice fishing, the PCCA’s program might be the perfect fit.
“The club cuts the holes in the ice, they provide the traps, they provide the bait,” Higgins said.
And the club also provides the food.
“If [kids] want to cook a hot dog on a stick, the Boy Scouts will be there to help them do that,” Higgins said. “If they’re not into that, we’ll have a gas grill going [and hot dogs will be cooked for them]. We’ll have hot chocolate, hot coffee and probably a few cookies and stuff like that. Everything’s free, but we will accept donations. All they have to do is dress warmly and enjoy the day.”
Higgins said Levasseur Pond is covered with a foot of solid ice, and he doesn’t expect Tuesday’s snow and sleet, nor a possible Friday storm, to create many problems.
Higgins said club members have learned that despite the PCCA’s long history in Brewer, many people aren’t aware of what it does. Besides giving families a chance to spend some time outdoors together each year, the ice fishing day introduces many to an organization they never knew existed.
“I’m going to say that half the people who’ve come to the fishing day for the eight or nine days we’ve held it never even knew we were there,” Higgins said. “We decided we needed to do more outreach to the community, more. This was a way to have the community come, enjoy a day with their kids, maybe learn about the club and maybe even join.”