Winter’s late arrival has caused the postponement of a number of early-season fishing derbies — but those scheduled for next month or later appear to be on track.

The earliest of the year — the Weld Ice Fishing Derby on Webb Lake — was scheduled for Jan. 16 but was postponed because of lack of ice. The event is organized by Weld Bicentennial and has been rescheduled to Sunday, March 6, making it one of the final derbies of the season.

Herb Blake, who organizes two derbies on Crystal Lake in New Gloucester, said the KTP Kids Derby and the Liberty Family Any Age USO derby scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 30, have been postponed to Feb. 13, giving the lake another two weeks to freeze.

More than $5,000 cash prizes are awarded at the New Gloucester event every year.

The Denmark Rod & Gun Club sponsors an annual derby at Hancock Pond, Sand Pond, Moose Pond, Pleasant Pond, Granger Pond, and Beaver Pond — all in Denmark — and that derby will be held as scheduled on Jan. 30.

“We’ve got plenty of ice all around here,” organizer John Wiesemann said Friday. The event awards $2,000 in prize money. Weigh-in is at the Denmark Town Hall.

The richest derby in the state — with $15,000 in prize money — will be held as scheduled in Frenchville in northern Aroostook County on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 30 and 31. According to organizer Lisa Bernier, it’s been 12 to 13 degrees below zero for the past week and the ice will be good.

The event, hosted by the Black Bear Rod & Gun Club, is held on multiple rivers and lakes, including Eagle Lake and along points of the St. John River. Anglers will be awarded prizes for the largest brook trout, lake trout, landlocked salmon, muskellunge and perch.

The Mexico Lions Club stocked a tagged fish for the 36th annual Larry Mercier Ice Fishing Derby scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 13. Now, it’s a matter of waiting for more ice to form on Roxbury Pond in Roxbury.

“The state says they are going to monitor it (the ice),” said club member Roland Patneaude. “We’ll have to send someone to drill a hole to check for the purity of the ice.”

Dennis Daniel of Ellis Pond Variety, who lives at the pond, said he’s being told the ice there is 8- to 9-inches thick. He said it’s safe to go fishing, but “people are being cautious.”

There’s one ice shack on the pond, he said, but it’s only out about 100 feet.

Patneaude said he doesn’t believe the ice there is as thick as Daniel is hearing.

“The snow is the big issue,” he said. “The snow on there (over the ice) hurts because there’s not that much ice.”

The hope is for more cold and less snow to help build the ice.

Daniel, who has been selling bait at his store for about two weeks, said, “People are biting at the bit to get out there.”

Patneaude said in the 35 years he’s been with the Lions Club, they’ve only had to cancel the derby twice, and that was when it was held in March.

The recent cold temps “will help tremendously,” Daniel said, adding he believes the ice fishing should be safe in time for the derby.

In the event of rain, the derby will be held Sunday, Feb. 14.

Patneaude said they began putting out posters this week to promote the derby, which includes a $2,000 prize for catching the tagged fish. Tickets are on sale at Roland’s Automotive in Mexico.

The Lions’ derby will take place during the state’s free ice-fishing weekend. And, Patneaude said. “It’s also Valentine’s weekend, so anglers can catch that big prize for their sweetheart.”

The Wilton Fish and Game Association also sponsors a derby on Feb. 13 at Wilson Pond. Total cash prizes are about $1,500.

Organizer Jeffrey Rowe said there appears to be sufficient ice on the pond for fishing now because he noticed a number of vehicles out there Friday, but he doesn’t know what the ice depth measures.

“As of right now, we’re a go,” he said.

There are derbies scheduled in Albion, Stetson, Milo, Levant, Hartland, Aurora, Deer Isle, Island Falls, Belgrade, Lovell, Gardiner, Springvale and Limerick on the Feb. 13-14 free fishing weekend.

On Feb. 20, derbies will be held in South Paris, Monmouth, West Newfield, Standish and Pittsfield, among other places.

A derby will be held on Round Pond in Livermore on Saturday, Feb. 27, to raise money for the Hollandstrong Scholarship Fund.

The event is being held in memory of the late Michael Holland, 25, of Wilton who was lost at sea on Oct. 1, 2015. He was one of 33 crew members aboard the cargo ship El Faro that sank during Hurricane Joaquin near Crooked Island, Bahamas.

“My sources tell me there is plenty of ice on Round Pond for the derby, but of course, we will continue to monitor very closely,” said Holland’s mother, Deb Roberts of Jay.

Seniors from Maine School Administrative District 52 in Turner, Regional School Unit 73, Jay and RSU 9, Farmington, are eligible to apply for the annual scholarship.

Registration begins at 5 a.m. There is a $5 entrance fee.

For a full list of registered derbies, go to the Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife website for information, including locations, organizers and their phone numbers, and prize money. 


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