ROXBURY — A specially-tagged brook trout was carefully poured into 20 feet of water in Roxbury Pond on Wednesday.

It’s worth $2,000 on Saturday to the lucky angler that catches it in the Larry Mercier Memorial 32nd annual Ice Fishing Derby.

The nicely-colored fish weighs about 2 pounds and is 16 or 17 inches long, brothers Roland and Jeff Patneaude said at the pond’s public boat launch where fish caught in the Feb. 12 event will be measured and weighed.

“I would love to see somebody cash in on this derby,” Jeff Patneaude of Byron said prior to the arrival of his brother and Mike Worthley of Roxbury with the brookie.

“Somebody winning a couple thousand dollars here, and next year there’d be people driving here from all over the state and even from New Hampshire.”

The feat has never been done legally during the derby in the 32 years it’s been held, Roland Patneaude of Rumford said.

The event is the Mexico Lions Club’s major fundraiser to provide eyeglasses for local people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford proper eye care. All proceeds are distributed to Mexico, Roxbury and Rumford residents.

“Last year, they raised $4,000,” Jeff Patneaude said. “It’s all nonprofit, so it’s a great thing that they do.”

Last year, more than 500 people of all ages tried their luck at catching the $2,000 brookie, or tried for the largest pickerel, bass, perch and trout, which this year pays out a total of $1,150.

The entry fee is $10, with payouts of $200, $150 and $100 for the top three catches of pickerel and bass. The largest trout nets $150 and the largest perch fetches $100. The derby is held from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a rain date of Sunday, Feb. 13. Temperatures on Saturday are expected to be in the 30s, Dennis Daniel, owner of Ellis Pond Variety in Roxbury, said on Wednesday.

All prizes, including raffled merchandise, are awarded at 3 p.m. on the day of the derby.

“The $10 entry fee registers you into the derby and a chance at all the prizes, so there will be no more paying $2 more for this or $4 for that,” Daniel said.

The top raffle prize is an ice auger.

At about noon on Wednesday, the temperature was 19 degrees at the boat launch. Jeff Patneaude estimated the wind chill at 5 or 10 degrees above zero.

He had already driven his Polaris sled to the center of the pond on 20 inches of snow and augered a hole through 2 feet of ice in preparation for the grand-prize brookie.

He said he hoped the wind would blow most of the snow off by derby day and that temperatures would remain cold at night to freeze slush under the snow.

A former registered Maine guide, Jeff Patneaude offered some tips for anglers pursuing the $2,000 brookie.

“That fish is going to head for the shallow water,” he said.

“The fish, if it’s going to be caught, will be caught within 3 to 6 feet of water. That’s where those fish feed. That’s where the brook trout are going to be.”

Daniel said he has already sold 50 tickets for the event and several people are still calling him every day asking if he’s got tickets left and bait.

He said he ordered 500 dozen bait fish and will open the store at 4:30 a.m. this Saturday to have bait already sorted out for participants who’ve called ahead.

Daniel said the boat launch parking area would be plowed out on Friday, Feb. 11, and expects organizers to ask participants to only park along one side of the road.

Additionally, Daniel said that people who build snowmen on the lake while waiting for the fish to bite should knock them down before they leave. He said they ice over and become a deadly hazard for snowmobilers crossing the pond at night.

Both Daniel and Jeff Patneaude also said snowmobilers should use caution when on the back side of the pond. It has up to 4-foot-high snow drifts covered by recent snows.

[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.

filed under: