Sports

Long Lake Ice Fishing Derby set to go in St. Agatha

St. AGATHA, Maine — The Long Lake Ice Fishing Derby is ready to roll in St. Agatha this year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 16th annual inception of the event, which raises money for the Edgar J. Paradis Cancer Fund, will take place the weekend of Jan. 30-31. 

Derby waters are: Long Lake, St. Froid Lake, Eagle Lake, Beau Lake, Carr Pond, Cross Lake, Square Lake, Glazier Lake, Portage Lake, and the St. John River. The 2021 event offers the potential for cash and prizes worth more than $42,000. 

Some anglers are getting a jump-start on their ice-fishing game ahead of the derby including the Hunter family of Presque Isle. 

Last weekend Daren Hunter and his two sons, Benjamin, 6, and Adam, 3, fished outside the family cabin on Long Lake where young Benjamin caught a 22-inch, four-pound salmon. 

The Hunters will enter the Long Lake Ice Fishing Derby for the first time this year. 

“We are joining the derby to experience the excitement of trying to make a competition out of fishing,” Daren Hunter said. “Adam and Benjamin love to fish and they are truly excited to try to get a winning fish.” 

Daren Hunter said he grew up fishing but stopped making time for the hobby until two years ago, when Benjamin demonstrated an enthusiasm for the sport.

“He started fishing off the dock at Mud Lake and he couldn’t get enough of it,” Daren Hunter said. 

“I really enjoy spending time outdoors with [my children] and seeing the excitement it brings them, knowing that it is a life-long sport,” Daren Hunter added. “Their favorite part of fishing is hooking one on and feeling it fight as well as eating salmon — their favorite fish.” 

Last year’s derby saw more than 1,600 participants, according to event chairman Paul Bernier. 

Bernier said the Long Lake Fishing Derby is an ideal opportunity for people to safely enjoy the outdoors while raising money for a good cause. 

“Everybody has been hunkered down with COVID for the last nine or 10 months; the only thing that is really allowable right now is outdoor activities,” Bernier said.

Fishing derby organizers are following COVID-19 regulations in order to keep participants safe, including the cancellation of the opening ceremony. The annual awards ceremony, rather than taking place in person, will be broadcast live the Monday after the derby on the St. John Valley Live Facebook page. 

Bernier added that COVID safety protocols will be in place at derby headquarters at Long Lake Sporting Club. 

“Masks are gonna be 100 percent required when people come weigh fish and when people come see the fish,” Bernier said.

Bernier said the main reason to support the derby is because proceeds will benefit the Edgar J. Pelletier Cancer Fund, which provides financial assistance to help family members and loved ones accompany St. John Valley cancer patients who must travel outside the area to receive treatment. 

To register for the Long Lake Ice Fishing Derby or for information about this year’s tournament, call Paul Bernier at 207-227-5252 or visit longlakeicefishingderby.com 

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