Warm and wacky weather set the stage for 2018 derby

Dave Lemieux of Waterboro, right, fished Saturday on Sebago Lake's Jordan Bay with Mike and Zach Audet of Biddeford. 

WINDHAM — For the first time in several years, the Sebago Lake Ice and Cumberland County Fishing Derbies saw official action on the big lake.

Concerns about ice conditions have led to derby complications in the past, including last year when the Sebago Lake portion of the competition had to be canceled.

“I’m just so happy that we had ice,” said Sebago Lake Rotary Club President Cyndy Bell during the Feb. 25 derby awards ceremony. The rotary runs the Sebago Lake and Cumberland County Derbies.

Bell works for the Lakes Region Weekly, and the paper is a derby sponsor.

It was a tale of two very different days over the two-day tournament last weekend, with Saturday offering sunny skies and warm temperatures and Sunday providing a winter reminder with snow and ice.

Angler’s were enjoying the Saturday Sun on Sebago Lake’s Jordan Bay, even if they weren’t having much luck with the fish.

“We couldn’t ask for much better weather than this,” said Carl Reagan of Windham.

Reagan, who is retired, added that a “bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at work.”

Saturday’s warm conditions didn’t come without incident, with the Portland Press Herald reporting that a man fell through the ice on Sebago Lake in Casco that evening. Rescue crews arrived and found the man safe and apparently unharmed at a nearby home, according to the Press Herald.

After a snowy day Sunday, the awards ceremony at the Windham Indoor Shooting Range provided recognition for the anglers that landed the three largest fish in the togue (lake trout), pike, pickerel and perch categories.

The derby did not yield a state-record togue out of Sebago Lake, meaning the event’s offer of $100,000 prize once again goes unclaimed and Hollis Grindle’s 60-year record remains on the books.

Grindle caught a 33.5 pound togue in Hancock County’s Beech Hill Pond in 1958.

The largest official togue weighed at this year’s derby was a 4.3 pound fish that netted $1,000 for Dana DiRenzo.

The winning togue was 22.9 inches long. Current state fishing laws require any togue caught on Sebago Lake or its direct tributaries that is between 23 and 33 inches to be released. Any togue caught during the derby within that slot limit had to be thrown back and did not count in the competition.

Ian Ryan won the pike category with a 9.3 pound fish, Jesse Allen took home first-place with a pickerel weighing 4.3 pounds, and Joe Libby had the largest perch at 1.36 pounds.

Winners in attendance Sunday evening were handed their trophies by Windham Police Chief Kevin Schofield, who is also a Rotary member.

The top three anglers in the togue category took home Kittery Trading Post Gift Cards worth $1,000, $500 and $250 respectively. Each of the other fish category winners received Kittery Trading Post Gifts cards of $500 for first place, $200 for second and $100 for third.

There were some familiar names at the awards ceremony, with a few previous trophy winners again bringing in several of the largest fish.

Dylan Dodge of Raymond, who won second-biggest pike and pickerel in 2015, brought in this year’s third-place pike after fishing on Kettle Cove.

Benjamin Carlin had this year’s second-place pike and third-place pickerel after sweeping the pike category last year, when he was one of the angler’s who fished Sebago despite the ice concerns.

“I get in there early, and I just fish it hard all day,” Carlin said Sunday evening about his chosen spot on Sebago, noting that he lives in Windham and fishes the lake throughout the year both on ice and in open water. “I know some spots that are constant producers.”

“I’ve got a good thing going,” he added with a smile.

Along with category winners, other derby participants took home prizes from a raffle Sunday night that included a Polaris ATV, a Mercury outboard motor, and gift cards to various local businesses.

Fish caught and weighed during the derby were sent to Nova Seafood in Portland to be processed and then donated to the Preble Street soup kitchen and Saint Joseph’s College, said rotary member Claire Woodman.

Woodman said that members Windham High School Interact Club helped collect and transport the fish to Nova Seafood in Portland, and emphasized that the company was processing the fish free of charge.

“Without them, this would not be happening,” she said.

Nova Seafood’s Barry Kern said that the company processed roughly 325 pounds of fish filet from the derby haul. Woodman said that 275 pounds of that fish is going to Preble Street

Matt Junker can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or mjunker@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @MattJunker.

Dave Lemieux of Waterboro, right, fished Saturday on Sebago Lake’s Jordan Bay with Mike and Zach Audet of Biddeford.

Shamus Morrison of Windham, 11, shakes hands with Windham Police Chief Kevin Schofield after reeling in 3rd place in the perch category of the Sebago Lake and Cumberland County Ice Fishing Derbies last weekend.

Dylan Dodge of Raymond with a pike he caught on Sebago Lake’s Kettle Cove.