WILTON — With howling winds blowing snow across Wilson Lake Sunday, views of fishermen competing in the Wilton Fish and Game annual ice fishing derby were limited.
"It's been a good turnout. There's a lot of people on the lake," Butch Borthwick said at about noon. The fishing continued until 4 p.m.
Borthwick, along with his wife, Sharon, led the event, which the state offers as a free fishing day to everyone.
Winners in the adult category for largest fish included: Patrick Daggett, 3.88 pound brook trout; Dennis Paine, 3.946 pound togue; Lee Buck, 1.653 pound salmon and Ryan Bolduc, 4.012 pound pickerel.
In the youth category, first place went to Hunter Meeks for a 4.166 pound small-mouth bass, second to Summer Meeks for a 3.769 small-mouth bass and third to Payton Ross for a 3.747 small-mouth bass.
Along with fishing for the largest trout, togue, salmon or pickerel, a free family fishing clinic, Hooked on Fishing, was also offered.
Emily McCabe of the Department of Inland Fishing and Wildlife provided the program. She was teaching everything one needs to know to ice fish and use the equipment. A red plastic tent was set up on the lake for the instruction.
Through the Sportsmen's Alliance, McCabe was also accepting entries in a free raffle for a lifetime fishing license for any child 15 or under. They didn't have to participate in the derby to take McCabe's program or enter the raffle. The winner was Colton Isenburg.
Members of the Wilton Fish and Game Youth League sold food and hot beverages from a trailer on the ice. It was their own fundraiser for their programs including shooting and fishing.
"They're doing it themselves. When you work for something, you own it," Borthwick added.
The youth league was started by Greg Roy two years ago. It's grown quickly from 5 to 23 members. Led by Roy, Phil Maurais and Borthwick, they teach youth firearm safety, shooting and cleaning firearms along with conservation of natural wildlife and resources, Maurais said.
"It's about them doing not just what we say but what we do," Borthwick added.
Mostly they enjoy the outdoors with trap shoots and fishing.
This fourth annual ice fishing derby is held to raise funds for Wilton Fish and Game programs. For $5, adults and youth,ages under 15, could make up to five fishing holes and try their luck for the largest fish until 4 p.m. One specially tagged brook trout was stocked in the lake; it's estimated value set at $300. All fish must be freshly caught from the lake, Borthwick said.
As children and families came in to have their catch weighed at the boat landing, the day was one for making memories, someone commented as he left his winning fish.
Hunter Meeks, 11, of Chesterville told Sharon Borthwick, "You can take away my prize and you can take away my fish, but you can't take away my memories and the pride of my family and friends."
The Wilton Fish and Game, located on Route 2, would like to offer more programs to the public. The building was constructed in the 1920s without water or restrooms, Borthwick said.
The organization was recently awarded an $8,292.50 grant from the NRA Foundation to dig a well and make the building ready for more programs, especially those for youth, to be held, he said.