Fish lined up in the Tremont Consolidated School gymnasium at last year's ice fishing derby fundraiser. This year's derby is set for Saturday, Feb. 2. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Tremont ice fishing derby set

TREMONT — One of Katrina Linscott’s favorite things about the annual ice fishing derby is seeing the tables lined up, stacked with fish at the weigh-in.

This year, the 14th Annual Tremont School Ice Fishing Derby is set for Feb. 2. Weigh-in is from 4–6 p.m. in the school’s gymnasium. Prizes will be awarded to kids and adults bringing in the biggest fish in at least 24 different categories.

“One side of the gym is lined with tables and the tables are full of fish by the end of the night,” said Linscott, who is the advisor to eighth grade class. “It’s a big community event. People fish all day. It’s great because it brings out all ages.”

After the weigh-in, raffle tickets are drawn for the multitude of prizes donated from the community. This year the Parent Teacher Organization’s big raffle prizes are a four-wheeler and trailer and a $500 gift certificate to Sally Mountain Cabins in Jackman.

Tickets for those will be available at the event up to the drawing.

“We sell about $1,000 of raffle tickets at the door once they see all the prizes,” said derby founder Mike Hodgdon. “We’ve got a lot of great donators.”

The derby is a fundraiser for the eighth grade class’s year-end trip and for the PTO. Fourteen years ago, when the eighth grade class was trying to figure out how it could raise money to celebrate the end of the school year, Hodgdon, whose kid was in the class, suggested a fishing derby.

Although his suggestion was met with skepticism, the event raised about $5,000 that first year.

“That was pretty good at that time,” Hodgdon said, adding that the event raised close to $20,000 last year. “Whatever the school (8th grade class) needs, they take and the rest goes to the PTO.”

More than 700 tickets were sold for last year’s derby. Participants can buy as many tickets as they want at $5 each and turn in that many fish, Hodgdon explained.

Members of the eighth grade class have been selling tickets throughout the community. They can also be purchased at the school. Participants must have their tickets purchased by 8 a.m. on Feb. 2.

“People come from all over the place,” he said. “Some come from out of state because they’ve heard about this derby.”

Prizes for the top catch of pickerel longer than 18 inches and the first five-pound fish to weigh in include a backpack full of fishing gear. Hodgdon’s favorite aspects of the event are giving away prizes and seeing families getting together for a fun outside activity.

“Kids come in red-faced and droopy, tired,” he said. “Tell you what, they get really excited when they put their fish down.”

Event participants hope for nice weather, but not too warm, and thick ice.

“If it’s a nice day — 20 degrees or above — the ponds will be full of people,” said Hodgdon. “If it’s one of those days that’s good fishing, people are going to catch a lot of fish.”

His biggest concern is keeping participants safe. Even though there has been a rash of cold days and nights lately, anything can happen before Feb. 2.

“People still need to be careful,” he said about ice and open water. “I noticed on Seal Cove Pond there’s a few open spots.”

This year’s derby falls the day before the New England Patriots face off with the Los Angeles Rams.

“It’s a Super Bowl weekend,” said Hodgdon. “I’m not too worried about losing too many people… It matters a lot to these kids that are out there all day long.”

Any pond or lake where fishing is allowed on the island qualifies for the event. Categories that will be judged at weigh-in include first five-pound fish, pickerel more than 18 inches, yellow perch, bass more than 16 inches, brown trout more than 14 inches, salmon — general law per pond, tongue more than 18 inches and brook trout more than a foot long.

“Anything that swims you can weigh it in,” said Hodgdon.

The event is a lot of work for a few key volunteers, he said, and they work hard to make sure the rules are fair.

Also key is “good prizes.”

“I love giving stuff away,” Hodgdon said, “This one kid has won so much stuff in the past he could start his own tackle shop.”

A previous version of this article contained an error. Tickets can be purchased to participate in the derby until 8 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2 and prizes are given away for as many as 24 categories.

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Former Islander reporter Sarah Hinckley covered the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands.

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