Leon Truman, co-chair of the Norway-Paris Fish & Game Association’s 35th annual ice fishing derby, proclaimed it “one of the most successful ever,” thanks, he said, to the participants. They not only helped raise substantial funds for the association’s scholarship fund, but kept the energy and fun going in spite of cold weather.

More than 2,000 registrants bought tickets to participate, said Eddie Truman, president of the association. Proceeds, he says, are used to send area kids to the Maine Conservation School in Bryant Pond. The association has voted to send another 12 students this year, he said.

“It’s so important to get kids involved,” Truman said. “We send kids to the Conservation Camp in hopes that they’ll come back and get involved. We’re always looking for new, younger members,” he said.

“Good, active older members, too,” he added with a chuckle.

“We always try to get lots of kids involved,” said Jim Alberi, co-chair of the event, along with Leon Truman. “The weather, though, that’s something we can’t dictate.”

Thirteen-year-old Ryan O’Leary won the prize for largest fish in the “other” category, as well as biggest fish overall, a 32-inch pike he caught on Sabattus Pond. “I started really liking (ice fishing) a few years ago,” he said. The size of the fish was a surprise: He didn’t know how big it was until he hauled it out of the ice. As he paused to consider why he joined the derby this year, his friend, Ben Field, 12, interrupted with “to win a prize!”

“No,” said O’Leary. “I just always ice fish. It’s just something to do.”

Prizes were announced Sunday, just after sunset at the Little Red Schoolhouse, on the edge of Norway Lake. Trophies will be presented at the next meeting of the Norway-Paris Fish & Game Association, which will be March 16, also at the Little Red Schoolhouse.


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