ST. AGATHA – Don’t be alarmed. There isn’t any ice yet on Long Lake, but the organizing committee for the second annual Long Lake Ice Fishing Derby is hard at work for the outing that is scheduled for Feb. 3-4, 2007.
The committee has doubled the prize money from last year, $3,000 compared with $1,500, and is looking to double the number of anglers from last year’s 300 to 600. It also has enlarged the fishing area to include Cross, Square and Eagle lakes.
On Tuesday, the committee members still were waiting for the derby permit from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
Last year, Bangor’s Mark Plourde walked away with the largest landlocked salmon, a more than 7-pound fish that measured 26 inches. Keith Labrie of St. Agatha had the largest cusk, at nearly 4 pounds.
“I don’t foresee any problem,” Chairman Paul Bernier said Tuesday. “I have discussed the derby and dates with fish biologists and Commissioner Roland Martin.
“We backed up the dates to February to take away from January pressure on Long Lake,” he said. “We also added three more lakes to the derby.”
Anglers bringing in the largest salmon and togue will win $750 for their efforts. Second place will get $250. First place for the largest trout will be $500, and $250 for second place. The largest cusk will bring in $200, and the booby prize for the weekend, the angler with the largest amount of perch, will get $50.
Bernier said the group plans to have registration outlets as far south as Millinocket this year. Last year registrations were available only in the St. John Valley.
“I’ve already had calls about dates and other information,” Bernier said. “It’s still early, but we need to get ready.”
Colder days are signs of what is coming in the next four months before the derby.
The committee started meeting in August and involved St. Agatha town officials and members of the Black Bear Rod and Gun Club.
Last year the committee sought 100 anglers, and more than 300 took to 6,000-acre Long Lake, known for its large salmon and trout.
The weigh-in center for the weekend will still be at the Sporting Club on Long Lake.
A portion of the proceeds of the derby will go to the Edgar J. Paradis Cancer Fund administered by the Northern Maine Medical Center in Fort Kent. The fund aids St. John Valley families stricken by cancer.
For more information on the annual derby, Paul Bernier can be reached at 543-7305 or by e-mail at email@example.com.