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Ice Fishing in Maine

Maine Ice Fishing

Ice fishing in Maine

By Cathy Genthner

Maine offers some world class ice fishing opportunities and ice fishing derbies are a Maine winter favorite! Get out there and enjoy ice fishing in Maine!

Sebago Ice Fishing Derby – February 18 and 19

The Sebago Ice Fishing Derby is in its 12th year that takes place on Maine’s second largest lake in the southern part of the state, just a
half-hour drive from Portland.

Glen Raymond, of Caribou, Maine won the 2011 Statewide Ice Fishing Derby with this Muskie weighing 23.69 pounds and measuring 43 inches long

Glen Raymond, of Caribou, Maine won the 2011 Statewide Ice Fishing Derby with this Muskie weighing 23.69 pounds and measuring 43 inches long. Photo courtesy of Cathy Genthner

Tom Noonan of Raymond came up with the idea for the derby nearly 15 years ago. The derby, which is sponsored by the Windham Rotary Club is held from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, when anglers are not required to have a license to fish – known as a free fishing weekend- an incentive offered by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to encourage more people to get into the sport of ice fishing.
The excitement and number of anglers participating in the Sebago Ice Fishing Derby have grown with each passing year. On a good year there have been estimates of nearly 5,000 people out on the ice.There are other events as well such as snowmobile races and a “mall” of craft, food and merchandise vendors on the frozen lake.

“The derby is a charitable fund raiser for the rotary club and it is also a fish management tool,” said Noonan. “I live on Sebago and fish a
lot. The Togue population was stressing the forage and the salmon population. The derby puts increased pressure on the Togue.”
Carroll Cutting, the owner of Jordan’s Store in Sebago has been a part of every fishing derby from the very beginning.
“Our store is a weigh station and the first year we opened at 4 a.m. It was cold as the dickens and there was a line of people waiting outside
our door for entry forms from the rotary people who arrived a short time later. They wanted to get fishing as soon as possible. Now we are able to sell entries before the derby takes place,” said Cutting. “It is one of our busiest weekends of the whole year. We really enjoy seeing all the fish come into our store. We have a scale in our backroom. The first fish start showing up around noon and then more and more fish as the time goes on. It is quite a thing. It is fun to see the people and the fish. People come in off the ice and it is so cold. They are always in a jovial mood. It is a big family out there on the ice. People invite each other into their shacks for coffee and visiting. The Windham Rotary does a great, great job and they raise a lot of money for groups that really need it.”

The entry fee for the Sebago Ice Fishing Derby is $30 for an individual or $50 for a family that includes two adults and up to six children.

Statewide Fishing Derby – March 3-4

The statewide fishing derby is held from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on all legal bodies of water in Maine. Cost is $20 for an individual or $30 for a family including two adults and up to six children and is also sponsored by the Windham Rotary Club.
“It is the largest and richest tournament in the state and it has the potential to be the largest fishing derby in the country because most derbies take place at one spot,” said Noonan, who says this goal can be reached with proper planning and organizing during the next five years. “This derby is easier because people can go and fish at their favorite spot where they know the waters and know where the really big fish are.”

Prizes for both derbies in the past have included boats and trucks. There is also a kids’ ice fishing derby, 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday February 25, Range Pond State Park, Poland, which is free.

For more information about the Sebago Ice Fishing Derby and State-wide
Fishing Derby as well as entry forms, visit: www.icefishingderby.com

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