LIVERMORE — The ice might not be good for a derby at Crystal Pond in Gray now, but it's thick enough at four derby ponds in Livermore, Auburn, New Gloucester and Roxbury, organizers said Thursday.
The ice was about 9 to 10 inches thick last weekend on Round Pond in Livermore, Martin Castonguay of Jay said.
Sponsored by 10 local businesses in Jay, Livermore and Canton, the Round Pond derby will be held from daybreak to 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28.
“So, it should be good,” Castonguay said of the ice. “It's supposed to be good weather, so we're pretty excited.”
The entry fee is $5. Prizes are $800 for the longest game fish — either brook trout or brown trout; and $200 for children catching the longest fish of any species.
Proceeds will be donated to provide a free public supper in the Jay-Livermore area.
“We had almost 100 participants last year and I'm hoping to have at least 150 this year,” Castonguay said.
Down in Auburn off Garfield Road at Taylor Pond, Rodney Leavitt said they've got ice ranging from 9 inches to 14 inches thick for their second annual Taylor Pond Ice Fishing Derby.
It will be held from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4.
“I just went out this morning and about 20 yards off shore, there's 14 inches of ice,” he said.
“I went out a little bit farther and there was 12 inches, and then the very center, which froze last, is 9 inches. So, we have all kinds of ice.”
Leavitt said many anglers began to worry after Wednesday's announcement that the Crystal Lake Ice Fishing Derby and Kids Derby were postponed from Jan. 28 to Feb. 25 due to poor ice conditions.
“Everybody was panicky, and I stopped down to Dag's (Bait Shop in Auburn) and everybody was like calling, but (Taylor Pond) is just a really good lake that we have,” he said.
“I mean, it froze solid. So, another week and you'll have a foot out in the middle unless it rains for a week straight,” he said.
“Actually all the snow we had, the last rain we had melted all that snow and turned it into ice, too, so it's just all solid ice,” Leavitt said. “There's no slush out there. It's almost perfect. It looks really good.”
In fact, it's so good that Leavitt and his wife, Cynthia, who run Healthy Smiles for ME Inc., a dentistry nonprofit that provides preventative dental care to Maine children in public schools, sent 7,000 fliers on the derby across Maine.
“It's not like a big moneymaker for us,” Rodney Leavitt said. “We don't want to make money. It's just to get her name out there and let people know what she's doing.”
Entry fees are $20 for adults; $5 for children ages 12 and under.
Unlike the debut event, which mostly offered cash prizes for the largest pike, the second annual event is geared more toward children.
That's why it offers some pretty unusual prizes rarely seen at Maine ice fishing derbies.
The first-place prize for children catching the largest pike, bass and pickerel by weight are lifetime fishing licenses. The child's entry ticket alone also includes a chance to win both a lifetime fishing and hunting license.
Adults catching the largest pike by weight win cash prizes starting at $500.
Down to Sabbathday Lake in New Gloucester, the ice last week was 6 to 7 inches thick, Roger Hines of the Royal River Rod and Gun Club Ice Fishing Derby, said.
"Until I get told by the state differently, we're still on," he said of their derby from 7 a.m. to 3:55 p.m. on Feb. 4.
The entry fee is $15. Winners are determined by fish weight, with first prize being a gas-powered ice auger.
Of the four events, the ice is thickest at Roxbury Pond for the Larry Mercier Memorial 33rd annual Ice Fishing Derby from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18. It is a fundraiser for the Mexico Lions Club.
Dennis Daniel, owner of Ellis Pond Variety in Roxbury, said the ice was 15 inches thick last week.
"It's in very good shape," he said.
The entry fee is $10. There is a grand prize of $2,000 for catching a tagged fish during the derby, cash prizes of $200 each for the largest pickerel and bass, $150 for largest trout and $100 for largest perch.