Media Archive

Ice fishing derby back once again to Schoodic Lake

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 165, No. 5, January 29, 2003

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

Participants hooked on state's longest-running ice fishing competition

LAKEVIEW PLANTATION If the cold doesn't bite, the fish will.

Winter anglers are getting their ice augers and fishing traps ready for the longest-running and, possibly, the largest ice fishing derby in the state.

The 41st Annual Schoodic Lake Fishing Derby, sponsored by the Milo Fire Department, is set for Feb.15 and 16 coinciding, coincidentally, with the state's free fishing days. That means that seasoned and novice fisher-persons alike can stick a line in the water and try their luck, without paying for a state license. All other state laws do apply, however.

Milo resident Murrel Harris, who has organized the Schoodic Lake derby for almost two decades, said that last year approximately 2,000 were on the ice at Schoodic, alone, not counting those fishing neighboring Sebois and Ebeemee lakes.

"I think people are out there because it's a cabin fever weekend," he said. "Kids are out of school for the week, so they pack up and come to Schoodic."

Many arrive from out of town and out of state, he said.

"Wardens flying overhead last year [in a helicopter] said it was just like a small city," Harris said, with all the people and ice shacks, snowmobiles and ATVs on the ice.

According to Harris, between 1,100 and 1,500 fish are caught on average each year during the derby, with the numbers growing. He said that biologists with the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife have benefitted from the statistics derived from the derby each year.

Information such as fish type, size and what it had consumed and remained in its belly are all sent onto the biologists.

"This has allowed [the biologists] to see how the stocking is coming, and has allowed fishing to make a comeback on the lake, Harris said.

The state stocks Schoodic Lake with brook trout, salmon, lake trout and splake, a hybrid fish from a cross-breeding of salmon and trout.

He said the biologists can even tell if a fish brought to a weigh station is authentically from Schoodic, Sebois or Ebeemee just by looking at what's in their stomachs.

Wardens will be on hand at all lakes, to ensure all state laws are followed. Volunteer fire personnel with the town of Milo will man the weigh stations at a trailer on the ice at the Lakeview landing and Knights Landing, Brownville.

Students at Penquis Valley High School are serving up chili, and members of the Boy Scout Troup 119 are holding a bottle drive on the lake.

Participants in the derby pay $5 for a ticket, which includes the entry fee and six tickets for the drawing, with prizes including a 2003 Z-370 Artic Cat snowmobile plus free service donated by Cat Trax in LaGrange. Other prizes include ice fishing equipment, a dog kennel, $200 of Irving gas, a coffee table and end tables, and gift certificates to area merchants. In addition, each fish registered at a weigh station gives the angler an additional chance in another contest, with more than $4,000 in prizes.

Cash prizes are awarded for the first-, second- and third-place winners in the biggest togue, salmon and trout contests, and the first and second place cusk, white perch, pickerel and bass.

Winners will be announced live on WDME D-103 radio station on Sunday, Feb. 16 at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets are available at Misty Morning Bait Shop in Dover-Foxcroft, Mike's Auto Repair in Lincoln, Alton Tash Stanley in Medway, D&M Discount and the All in One Stop in LaGrange, as well as many merchants in Milo and the surrounding area.

All proceeds go to benefit local charities, Harris said.

Last week, there was between eight and 10 inches of ice. No problems are anticipated, Harris said, especially due to the recent cold spell. He said the fire department volunteers, emergency rescue personnel, wardens and members of the local police force will be available, in the event of an emergency.

"We urge everyone to be careful and have a fun, safe time," Harris said.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.