Cabin fever? An ice fishing derby can bring your temperature down.
There are a number of popular derbies that take place annually throughout Maine. Fishing and fellowship, the hallmark of these winter events, mixed with friendly competition to snag the biggest fish — and the biggest prize — make for a fun time.
One notable ice fishing event is the Moosehead Lake Togue Derby scheduled this year for Jan. 26-28 in Greenville. This derby has been around for a number of years and began, really, as a fisheries management tool, a way to cut down on the Moosehead Lake togue population and, in so doing, helping preserve the forage base for landlocked salmon survival.
The great thing about the Moosehead derby is that you don’t have to be an ice fishermen to win, just a ticket buyer. Many of the best prizes are awarded to ticket buyers whose names are entered into a drawing. For example, first prize is a trip for two to Las Vegas, a Caribbean cruise or a cash prize of $1,500 — your choice. Second prize in the drawing is a .270 rifle with a scope, or $300 in cash. Third prize is a 12-gauge shotgun.
Tickets to be eligible for either the fishing competition or just the door prizes are $25 each for an individual, $40 for a family and $5 for a youth door prize.
Ice fishing competition and big-money prizes continue to be the main attraction. First prize for the largest togue (lake trout) iced at the derby is $1,500. The second-largest togue caught gets $500 and third prize is $350.
Tickets are being sold at the Indian Hill Trading Post in Greenville; Moosehead Bait & Tackle in Greenville; Lucky’s Bait, The Stress Free Moose, Van Raymond’s in Brewer; and Mountain’s Market in Dover-Foxcroft. Tickets are also available online at www.NRECmoosehehad.org.
There is a Wild and Tame dinner Saturday Jan. 27 from 4-7 p.m. at the Bartley Event Center on Pritham Ave. This dinner will feature wild game dishes, as well as a traditional turkey dinner. Prizes will be drawn after the meal and you will have a chance to swap fishing stories with ESPN’s NASCAR analyst Ricky Craven.
With a number of ice fishing derbies over the past few years, poor ice conditions have created a safety concern. Given the early January weather and sub-zero temperatures, there should be plenty of ice to support anglers, as well as snowmobilers and 4-wheelers. It’s still a good idea to check ice thickness or talk to somebody in the know before venturing forth, cold or no cold.
All in all the Moosehead Lake Togue Derby is a major happening, a three-day attraction for ice fishermen as well as families that just want to enjoy fellowship, good food, spectacular winter scenery and a chance to win some significant prizes.
Make a note on your calendar: Moosehead Lake Togue Derby, Jan. 26-28. By the way, part of the derby proceeds go to support Greenville’s NERC youth program, which is dedicated to getting youth outdoors.
The author is editor of the “Northwoods Sporting Journal.” He is also a Maine guide and host of a weekly radio program — “Maine Outdoors” — heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on “The Voice of Maine News – Talk Network.” He has authored three books; online purchase information is available at www.maineoutdoorpublications.com.