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Derby winner knew he was reeling in a winner

FORT KENT, Maine — When Jason Cyr of Madawaska reeled in the winning fish of the Fort Kent International Muskie Derby on Friday morning, he knew he had a big one.

Jason Cyr of Madawaska won the Fort Kent International Muskie Derby with this monster he caught on the St. John River. (Courtesy of Jason Cyr)

Cyr caught his 44 ⅞ inch, 22 pound, 4 ounce muskie with Fire Tiger Crankbait while fishing on the St. John River in Grand Isle.

“I had just changed my lure and it was on the second cast where I felt my line stop. At first I thought I was snagged on a branch but I soon felt the ‘head shake’ and the tugging on my line. At that moment I knew I had one and set the hook. That’s when the fight began and I got a glimpse of it. I then knew I had a nice one and the excitement kicked in.”

Cyr said he asked his fishing partner and brother-in-law, Kevin Deschaine, to grab the net.

“He also knew it was a nice one and said, ‘That’s a money fish, take your time,’” Cyr said. “After about 5 minutes we finally landed it in the boat.”

Cyr said he wasn’t deterred to fish in the river after a temporary diversion of wastewater into the Fish River in Fort Kent last week that resulted in the Maine Department of Environmental Protection issuing an advisory cautioning people to avoid contact with waters from the Fish and St. John rivers. The DEP issued the advisory Tuesday and lifted it Thursday.

“After speaking with a few people and seeing they lifted the ban I wasn’t too concerned,” Cyr said. “I actually kept my fish and plan on making a fish fry this weekend.”

Derby organizer Jesse Jalbert said he fielded a variety of phone calls at Up North Outdoors and online, which sponsors the derby, from people with questions and concerns about the advisory.

“I didn’t hear of anyone specifically saying they were not coming because of it or not participating because of it,” Jalbert said.

About 330 anglers entered the annual fishing tournament, down slightly from recent years, according to Jalbert.

“Water levels probably played into it a little,” he said.

No youth turned in muskies this year.

“It seems like the fishing conditions may have been a little more difficult this year. We got rain that really brought up the water table quite quickly and also made the water a little dirty so it made it harder to catch fish,” Jalbert said.

Kim Doody caught the largest bass in the competition at 19 ⅞ inches and 4 pounds, 6 ounces.

The muskie derby was held in conjunction with the Greater Fort Kent Area Chamber of Commerce Ploye Festival. Highlights of the ploye festival included a youth ploye eating contest, arts and crafts fair, and the annual tradition of Bouchard’s Family Farm cooking the world’s largest ploye at Riverside Park.

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