SINCLAIR, Maine - A big crowd turned out over the weekend for the 14th annual Long Lake Ice Fishing Derby. Kathy McCarty spoke with participants about the popular fundraiser.
Weather may have prevented a few anglers from participating in this year's event, but Derby Chairman Paul Bernier says hundreds still turned out to take part, hoping to win top honors. With over $18,000 in prizes offered, it's no wonder anglers from all over attend.
"We're confident we're gonna be, you know, be over a thousand. Are we gonna beat last year's? I don't know. It's - these last couple snowstorms - that kinda put a damper on some of the - some of the spots."
Ten bodies of water are included in the derby.
"We have the St. John River, and then we have Long, Square, Cross, St. Froid, Glacier Lake, Beau Lake, Eagle Lake, and Carr Pond. So it's pretty well spread out all over The County."
Portage Lake was also a designated derby site. Anglers use different methods and lures, but few will divulge which lures are best.
"You can use traps or a lot of people are using jigging poles. They drill a hole and they jig with a lure and they can be just as lucky that way. You'll see people change lures and they're not gonna let anybody see what color it is and everything else."
Landen and his dad, Steven Hebert, residents of Fort Kent, didn't have to travel far for Landen to get his first derby fish.
"It's not technically mine; but I got it on a different line."
"On your aunt's line, yes."
"On my aunt's."
Landen says if he wins, he wants to put his fish on the wall as a trophy. Ron Weymouth and his son, Caleb, traveled from Orrington to participate.
"My parents just bought the house right beside us right here, and this is our first - his first time ice fishing up here. I've been up here coming spring fishing for about 20 years, 30 years."
Weymouth says it's about 20 years since he's been ice fishing here, but since his folks bought the house, he's looking forward to watching his traps just feet away from the home. Proceeds from the derby go to The Edgar J. Paradis Cancer Fund.
"I really think that's why it's so successful - for the cause."
Bernier says there aren't many families who haven't been affected by cancer, including participants, with the derby providing a way for folks to give back to those affected by the disease.