State urges people to be careful as the ice fishing derby season gets into full swing

By Julie Harris, Bangor Daily News Staff

Although there is plenty of safe ice in Maine, people need to be careful in some areas, especially on the larger and deeper lakes, according to a Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife spokesman on Monday.

Those who plan to ice fish this coming weekend in the nearly a dozen derbies around the state, including one on Maine’s largest lake, should avoid areas near inlets, outlets, bridges and anywhere there is current, said Mark Latti, MDIF&W spokesman. People should check ice thickness every few feet as well.

The advice comes just as the ice fishing derby season is getting into full swing. There were a handful of derbies last weekend, including the Long Lake Ice Fishing Derby in Aroostook County, the largest derby in the state. 

“We want people to get out and enjoy the outdoors, but we want them to be careful,” Latti said.

Rains from December and January have raised the water levels in lakes and ponds, making some bodies of water less safe than they normally are this time of year, especially for ATVs, snowmobiles and other vehicles, Latti said. 

The lakes and ponds that have dams controlling water levels will have more current, which is making it harder for good, solid ice to form, he said.

Several derbies are planned for this weekend, including one on Moosehead Lake.

The 17th annual Moosehead Lake Togue Derby will be held Feb. 2-4 in Greenville by the Natural Resource Education Center. Tickets are $25 for individuals and $40 for a family. Fishing starts at 12:01 a.m. Friday. There will be prizes of cash and goods, and there’s a youth door prize drawing. The bait shops are stocking up for the derby. There will be weigh-ins at Rockwood and Greenville. Contact is Sarah Lavigne at 207-404-3663.

Mount Vernon Fire Company will hold a fishing derby Saturday, Feb. 3, in Mount Vernon. Ponds and lakes include Flying, Long and Minnehonk ponds and Echo and Torsey lake (Greeley Pond). $30 entry fee. Contact is Chris Tibbetts, 207-458-5243. Weigh-in at 7 Belgrade Road.

Portage Lakers Snowmobile Club will hold a derby on Saturday, Feb. 3, on Portage Lake. Weigh-in is at the groomer’s shed at 8 School Road. Contact is Susan Rogers at 207-776-0061

Pushaw Lake Snowmobile Club will hold a derby Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 3 and 4, on Pushaw Lake and Pushaw Pond (Hudson). Weigh-in is at the clubhouse. Contact is Bruce Caswell at 207-745-2677.

Hillside Sports Club will hold a derby on Saturday, Feb. 3, on Long Pond in Livermore. Registration is $10. Weigh-in will be at 736 Federal Road. Contact is Robert Jacques at 207-645-9932.

Sheepscot Lake Fish and Game Association will hold a statewide ice fishing derby on Saturday, Feb. 3. Fish from any body of Maine water that can legally be fished is eligible. Derby tickets are $1 or six for $5. Special kids grand prize. Weigh-in will be at the clubhouse at 1579 Route 3, Sheepscot Lake Boat Landing. Contact is Rodney Glidden at 207-485-0190.

The town of Houlton will hold an ice fishing derby on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 3 and 4, on Mill Pond, Drews (Meduxnekeag) Lake and Nickerson Lake in the towns of Hodgdon, New Limerick, Linneus and Oakfield. Weigh-in will be at Siders Variety and Redemption, 53 Calais Road, Hodgdon. Contact is Nancy Ketch at 207-521-5938.

The Oakland Recreation Department will hold a kids-only ice fishing derby on Sunday, Feb. 4, on Messalonskee, Salmon, McGrath, North, East and Long lakes in Oakland, Sidney and Belgrade. Weigh-in will be at Atwood Elementary School, Heath Street in Oakland. Contact is Eric Seekins at 207-465-7357. Weather date is Sunday, Feb. 11.

The American Legion Post 55 will hold a n ice fishing derby Sunday, Feb. 4, on Holland Pond (Sokokis Lake) in Limerick. Weigh-in is at the boat launch on Route 11. Contact is Michael Ward at 207-608-5837. Weather date is Sunday, Feb. 11.

The 2024 Pennesseewassee Ice Fishing Derby will be held on Sunday, Feb. 4, at Lake Pennesseewassee in Norway. Adults $15. Youths $10. Weigh-in is at the boat launch. Contact is Brynn Bean at 207-890-4724.

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