You won’t catch anything without a quality ice rod and reel. These come in different lengths and actions. For panfish, an ultralight to light action rod between 20 and 30 inches in length will suffice. For walleye, a medium-light to medium rod between 24 and 36 inches will suffice. For trout or pike, a medium-heavy to heavy rod between 36 and 42 inches will suffice.

To outfit your rods, you will need an ultralight to light reel for panfish and small walleye, and a standard-sized reel for larger fish. You may use an ordinary open water reel for ice fishing, but you must replace the fine grade oil with thicker oil to prevent it from freezing.

In all likelihood, you will be using minnows for bait, so you will need an insulated minnow bucket and a long-handled net, which will allow you to scoop up the minnows without having to touch the cold water. Both the bucket and the handle of the net should be made of plastic rather than metal, which will freeze quickly and stick to the ice or worse, to your hand.

In order to fish, you must drill a six- to eight-inch hole into the ice, and for that, you will need some special equipment. First, you must buy an auger to drill the hole. You may purchase a hand- or gas-operated one. Hand augers are the least expensive, but will not work well on thick ice.

You will also need a plastic hole scoop with a fairly long handle to remove the slush created from drilling the hole. If you are fishing in extremely cold weather, you may need a tip-up as well that will cover the hole and submerse the reel under the surface of the water.

If you don’t want to sit on the cold ice with the wind whipping in your face, a portable hut is essential. This will make your ice fishing experience much more comfortable. The hut you buy should be constructed of dark rip-resistant material, have some windows and be large enough to accommodate whoever may be accompanying you. It should also provide good seating and be easy to transport.

To keep yourself and your companions warm and safe, you may want to purchase a portable heater and lanterns. Look for a flameless propane heater and make sure your hut has vents in which the propane gases can escape. Generally the larger your hut, the greater the BTUs of the heater can be. As for lanterns, keep in mind that those operated by propane will last longer than those operated by battery.

There are many other supplies you will need for your ice fishing trip. A compass or GPS unit will come in handy in bad weather, while a fish finder will make finding fish easy and needle-nose pliers or a jaw spreader will make removing the hook from the fish a snap.

You will also need ice cleats to stay upright on snow-free ice and ice picks to dig yourself out of the ice in the event you fall through. You may also want to carry a change of clothes, a flashlight, some waterproof matches and a small shovel.

By Terry Karkos, Feature Writer

Many groups are holding fishing derbies these days as fundraisers or just for fun. More than 300 anglers vied for $3,150 in cash prizes for the largest bass, trout, pickerel and perch during the 35th annual Ice Fishing Derby at Roxbury Pond held in Feb. 2014.

Of the prize money, $2,000 was the grand prize for a tagged 17- to 18-inch brook trout, which for the 35th year in a row, nobody caught, derby co-organizer Roland Patneaude said.

“We had 318 registrants, which is down by over 200 from last year,” Patneaude said.

The event is sponsored by the Mexico Lions Club.

Randy Knapp caught the largest trout at 1-1/2 pounds and 15-3/4 inches, netting $150. Shawn Burby won $100 for catching the largest perch at 12-3/4 inches. It weighed three-fourths of a pound.

Thaddeus Bennett won $200 for first place, catching the largest smallmouth bass. It weighed 3 pounds and was 18 inches long. Taking second place and $150 was Don Kennedy with a 17-1/2-inch fish that weighed 2 pounds. Ian Jacques won third place and $100 for a 17-inch bass that weighed 2 pounds.

Nathan Woods won $200 and first place for the largest pickerel. It was 25-1/2 inches and weighed 4 pounds. Sebastian Weston took second place and $150 with a 22-inch fish at 2 pounds, and Victoria Meader took third place, winning $100 for a 21-inch fish that weighed 2-1/2 pounds.

For many participants, the event was an annual social gathering. There was plenty of ice. Co-organizer Jim Theriault said it was between 30 and 40 inches thick.

The derby was held under an overcast sky that began dropping snow at about 2 p.m. as temperatures slowly dropped.

“It was kind of warm first thing this morning, but it’s 32 degrees now and we’re starting to get a breeze now from this incoming storm,” Patneaude said 16 minutes before the derby ended at 3 p.m.

Theriault announced the winners in the boat launch parking lot and had them come up for their prize money and pose for photos.

The Lions Club then awarded the derby’s top prize of a $450 ice auger to Bob Riley who had the winning ticket. Riley is the owner of towing company and garage MT Pockets of Dixfield.

While other ticket prizes were being awarded, Konnor Robin and his family walked by headed for their car. Konnor was pulling his sister, Kylie Robin, both of Rumford, behind him in a plastic sled coming up from the pond.

“No fish, but I had some bites,” the youngster said.

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