ROXBURY — Ice 30 inches thick and a brook trout worth a $2,000 grand prize will await anglers participating in the 31st annual Larry Mercier Memorial ice fishing derby this weekend on Roxbury Pond.

“It’s hard black ice and very smooth,” co-organizer Roland Patenaude said Friday.

Sponsored by the Mexico Lions Club, the event will be held from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13. The rain date is Valentine’s Day.

Not coincidentally, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is promoting Family Fishing Days by allowing people to fish for free on Feb. 13 and 14 on Maine waterways.

The free fishing event is open to anyone except those whose license has been revoked or suspended. All other laws and regulations apply.

To mark the derby’s 30th event last year, the Lions Club bumped the event up two weeks to Valentine’s Day to purposely coincide with the free fishing day, and to try and get youth who were out of school for vacation hooked on ice fishing.

The Larry Mercier Memorial derby, which is the club’s largest fundraiser, was originally held on Valentine’s Day weekend.

Patenaude said he’ll drive to Augusta a few days prior to the event to get the usual two or three large brook trout, which he puts into the pond at a secret location. Catching one of these specially tagged lunkers during the derby, nets the angler a $2,000 grand prize.

No one’s ever caught any during the derby. This year’s big brookies will come from an MDIF&W hatchery, because the hatchery where Patenaude previously got the fish has closed, he said.

The derby entry fee of $10 makes anglers eligible for prizes, which include an ice auger or 32-inch television and various door prizes.

“Prizes are still coming in” from donors, Patenaude said.

Additionally, there will be payouts of $200, $150 and $100 for the top three catches of pickerel and bass; $150 for the largest trout; and $100 for the largest perch.

Last year’s event attracted more than 400 anglers.

Ellis Pond Variety on Route 120 at Roxbury Pond village will open at 4:30 a.m. Feb. 13 to allow people to register for the derby who haven’t yet signed up.

Bait is also available there, but anglers can order ahead by calling owner Dennis Daniel at 545-2713 to have it set aside.

Proceeds from the event go toward hearing aids and eye care in the River Valley area.

The Lions lunch wagon will be offering hot dogs, hamburgers, soda, coffee and more.

For more information, call Patenaude at 562-0949 or 364-2827, event Chairman Jim Theriault at 364-9050, or Daniel at 545-2713.

[email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.