WILTON — Bruce Dyke says the ice on Wilson Lake usually goes out within a couple days of his birthday, but he’s thinking it could be earlier this year.

Dyke is organizing the traditional ice out contest this year for the Wilton Fish & Game Association. It’s been a few years since the contest was held, he said.

The one who can guess the closest month, day, hour and minute for ice out wins a $100 cash prize when they submit an entry for $5, he said Thursday.

Funds raised help the association programs. The association’s purpose is to promote good sportsmanship and conservation of wildlife and natural resources.

“In 124 years, the ice has only gone out one time in March,” Dyke said. “I’m hoping we will have ice April 1, the date all contest entries must be in.”

The ice-out date for Wilson Lake has been recorded since 1889  with only two years missed, he said.

Wilton Fish & Game often seeks ways to raise funds to support their programs. This year, he suggested restarting the ice-out contest and volunteered to organize it. 

He’s also the one to claim the date.

“I was told you’re the guy … you keep watch,” he said.

As the ice gets thinner, wind pushes it toward the southern end where it breaks up.

“When I can put a boat in at the boat landing and go across to the other edge of the lake without touching ice, the ice is out,” he said.

Years ago there was an old wire strung across from the boat landing to the wall forming the edge of the lake near the public swimming. When the ice was gone below the wire, ice was out.

“The police chief would sit and watch it,” he said.

Dyke was the lucky guesser in 1979. He received a fly rod from Eagle’s Sport Shop as a prize.

“There’s no real trick to it,” he said, about choosing a date.

He sticks to his rule of thumb, within a couple days from his birth date, April 23.

The range of ice-out dates on Wilson Lake recorded from 2000 to 2009 includes April 14, 15, 18, 22, 23, 26 and 28, and May 1 and 4.

Now, there is 16 inches of ice on the lake. There are also ice-fishing shacks on the lake, he said.

Wilton Fish & Game is currently planning its annual Ice Fishing Derby for Sunday, Feb. 17, and expects a large turnout. Winners for the heaviest fish are awarded in youth and adult categories.

Dyke is already taking entries for the 2013 Wilson Lake Ice Out Contest.

Anyone who would like to join in the contest may contact him at 645-2131. Forms may be mailed with the month, day, hour and minute guess, your name, phone number and a $5 entry fee to Bruce Dyke, P.O. Box 605, Wilton, ME 04294.

[email protected]

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