Anglers take to the ice for 12th annual Moosehead Lake Togue Derby
GREENVILLE — The 12th annual Moosehead Lake Togue Derby with Ricky Craven is in the books. The event is organized by the Natural Resource Education Center at Moosehead (NREC) to raise funds for programming. Anglers from all over made the trek north to Maine’s largest lake for the action. As would be expected, Mainers make up the vast majority of participants, but organizers also sold tickets to folks from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Quebec, and Florida! Ticket sales have been holding steady just north of 700 for the past three years of the derby.
The weather and travel conditions were not too bad despite the rain earlier in the week. The temperatures dropped enough on Friday night, Jan, 25 to firm up the lake and the predicted wind for Saturday never fully materialized, although the few snow squalls on Sunday kept the scoops busy. This year, anglers brought in some very nice fish. The leader board was crowded on Friday night with 3- and 4-pound fish but these togue were blown away quickly on Saturday.
Karen Quinn of Scarborough was staying at Wilson’s on Moosehead Lake when she landed a 33.5-inch togue that tipped the scales at 12.72 pounds. She caught the fish late on Friday while jigging just as her party was getting ready to set up for some cusk action. It took her 10 very long minutes to land the fish. Quinn held on through the remainder of the derby to take first place and a check for $1,500. She is the first woman to win the Moosehead gold!
Second place went to Ben Hilton of Norridgewock, with an 11-pound fish and Mike Sills of Anson was close behind with an 11.78-pounder. This was only the second time in derby history that the top three fish exceeded 10 pounds. Nice job to all.
There were 48 door prizes drawn from the derby entry tickets at the spaghetti dinner on Saturday evening. The top door prize went to Matt Morin of Skowhegan. Morin will now have to decide whether he wants one of the three great vacation packages donated by NREC or a check for $1,500. Joshua Kane of Easton left town with a new Winchester XPR 300 Win Mag donated by Indian Hill Trading Post and NREC. Robert Roy of Durham will have a choice of a new Henry 12-gauge shotgun or a check for $300 and Mary McLellan of Lily Bay is the proud owner of a new 8-inch Ion battery-powered ice auger and jet sled donated by Indian Hill Trading Post. Check out all the door prize winners and all the great donors who make this community event possible, at www.NRECmoosehead.org.
NREC also held their youth raffle this year during the derby. Summer Darling from Oxford and her family fished hard this weekend and caught a few togue and she was rewarded with a lifetime fishing license courtesy of the Moosehead Lake Fisheries Coalition. Tyler Johnson for Plainville, Massachusetts is the recipient of the new Trek bike donated by Northwood’s Outfitters, and Summer’s relative Sonya Darling now has a beautiful Dove Tail Bat thanks to Dove Tail Bats in Shirley.
The derby continues to be a useful fisheries management tool to help control the togue population in the big lake and it is a terrific community event and fundraiser. Those involved hope everyone had a good time and they will see them all again next January.