Sports

Rockport man wins 17th annual BDN drift boat fishing trip

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Todd Mackey of Rockport isn’t among those who’ve entered the BDN’s “Win a Drift Boat Trip” contest for years and years. In fact, he’s new to the fly fishing game, and entered for the first time this year.

That didn’t matter to lady luck: Mackey was randomly selected from a field of about 600 applicants to go on a full-day fly fishing trip.

Mackey will join registered Maine guide Dan Legere, proprietor of the Maine Guide Fly shop in Greenville, and me for a fantastic day of fishing on the East Outlet of the Kennebec River.

“I’ll tell you why I entered,” Mackey explained after having been told he’d won. “A couple of years ago my father-in-law handed me down his fly fishing gear, and we’ve kind of been dabbling. Last summer I just got thoroughly hooked. And then I thought, ‘Man, that would be cool to get in on a little drift boat action.’ That’s what made me enter.”

For years Legere has set aside Father’s Day — this year it falls on June 16 — for a simple reason: Year in, year out, that day falls on a predictably awesome day of fishing. Of course, the quality of the fishing can vary, but come mid-June in the Moosehead Lake area, brook trout and landlocked salmon are likely to be looking upward and feasting on dry flies for at least part of the day, and Legere spends enough time on the water that he’s sure to know exactly which flies the fish will take.

Legere said there’s a special reward that comes from taking anglers like Mackey out on their first drift boat trip.

“He’s the type of angler I love. New to the game but probably doesn’t have any ingrained bad habits and has a serious thirst for knowledge,” Legere said. “I’ll be able to teach him a lot and if the fish cooperate we’ll send him off with a nice bag of tricks that will carry him forward.”

And after a full day on the water with top-notch instruction and plenty of time to practice, Legere said he expects Mackey’s improvement to be obvious.

“People like Todd are so much fun to have on board. At the end of the day they have gone from not really knowing what they are doing or believing they can fool a fish to a confident caster with an understanding of the world below the surface of the water and what it takes to fool a fish,” Legere said.

The “Win a Drift Boat Trip” contest began back in 2003, when the BDN marketing staff was brainstorming a way to introduce their new outdoor columnist — me — to the public. We decided to stage a free-to-enter contest, and it’s been a hit ever since.

This year’s contest was as popular as ever, with more than 600 entrants from 165 Maine towns along with 18 other states taking part. We received applications at outdoor shows, in the mail and via an online link, and entrants hailed from Oregon, Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Virginia and all of the New England states, among others.

Mike Horvers was the first winner of the BDN’s “Win a Drift Boat Trip” contest back in 2003. Others followed: Jason McCubbin in 2004, Doug Saunders in 2005, Tom Nichols in 2006, James Rolph in 2007, Dick Fortier in 2008, Tiffany Shepard in 2010, Don Factor in 2011, Jasper Walsh in 2012, John Craig in 2013, Byron Hale in 2014, Harvey Siebert in 2015, John St. Onge in 2016, Brandon Prescott in 2017 and Michael McCarthy in 2018. In 2009, the winner could not find a date that fit into their schedule, and the prize was not given out.

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