Derby-winning togue on Moosehead weighed almost 15 pounds

By Julie Harris, Bangor Daily News Staff

Chris Parent caught his winning togue on the first day of the three-day Moosehead Lake Fishing Derby.

The 31-year-old Gorham resident knew he had the potential winner when he pulled the fish through the ice on Friday, which meant he anxiously watched the leader board all weekend.

It was the Natural Resource Education Center’s 17th annual togue derby, held Feb. 2-4, on Moosehead Lake. The nonprofit organization sold 645 tickets, up from the last two years in which they sold from 550 to 575. They also had 184 entries for the youth raffle.

The all-volunteer education center offers summer and winter outdoor programs to youths and supports college internships and the Moosehead Visitors Center in Greenville.

Photo courtesy of Chris Parent
WINNING TOGUE — Chris Parent of Gorham, left, caught the winning togue at the annual Moosehead Lake Togue Derby. The fish weighed 14.48 pounds and was 36.125 inches long. His friend Nate Paradis, also from the Portland area, helped him with the fish.

“My buddy Nate (Paradis) said to me on the way to the derby ‘I think a 16-pound fish will win the derby’,” said Parent, who is a dentist at Ossipee River Dental in Porter. 

Paradis wasn’t far from wrong. Parent’s fish weighed 14.48 pounds and was 36.125 inches long. It was only his second time fishing on Moosehead. He placed second in the derby last year by a couple of ounces, he said.

But this wasn’t Parent’s first big fish. In 2018, he caught a 10.2-pound landlocked salmon that was 30 inches long. Parent and his family spend summers at their camp on East Grand Lake, so fishing is a year-round sport for him.

On Friday, Parent and the rest of his fishing party set up camp on the ice in a portable shelter outfitted with cots and a heater. They would spend the weekend on the ice. They made holes in 10-12 inches of ice around the shelter and set their traps.

 Parent made one more hole so he could jig for fish to pass the time while he waited for flags to start going up, he said.

He was catching some small fish, but decided to use a flasher to see what might be below. He reeled in his lure, almost to the ice, and suddenly saw a big fish come up and grab it. The fish took off with his line.

Parent called Paradis over to help him and the two men reeled in the monster and pulled it out of the hole and onto the ice. Paradis thought it might win the derby.

He was right.

Parent took first place with it. Second place went to Walter Bachelder with a 29 ⅜-inch togue weighing 8.43 pounds and third place went to Kolby Glidden with a 27.5-inch fish at 5.87 pounds. 

Besides the prestige of winning, Parent also received prize money of $1,500, part of which he plans to use to buy lifetime fishing and hunting licenses for his boys, who are now 3 and 1 years old.

“I want the kids to be involved in the outdoors,” he said. His 3-year-old has been fishing with him a couple times, and Parent hopes to buy a snowmobile so they can fish more often.

Parent fished the rest of the weekend, hoping to top his big one. Mostly the fish weighed between 3 and 5 pounds. 

Paradis caught togue in the 18-22-inch range. He won the event one year with the biggest togue ever caught in the derby’s history. It weighed 20 pounds.

Parent fileted his big fish to smoke the meat. Some people don’t like the flavor of togue because they are bottom-dwelling fish, but smoking the meat is the best way to eat it, he said. 

“I am waiting for a 20-pounder to put on my wall,” Parent said.

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