The Star-Herald

Fishing tourney on tap in Island Falls

In over 60 years of fishing in Maine, a bunch of other states and half a dozen countries, until last summer I’d never been in a fishing tournament. It was all the fun of a regular outing plus the excitement and challenge of perhaps boating a fish that might qualify for a prize. To top it all off, after the weigh-in all the competitors were treated to a huge fresh fish fry and a wide variety of delicious dishes.

Any angler who’s spent time in camp or a boat with a couple of fishing buddies or old friends will attest that generally there’s a bit of friendly competition; who catches the first fish, the largest fish and the most fish yields bragging rights, and a fair amount of “trash talk” is expected. Enter a fishing tournament and you get all this interaction, amiable competition and the chance to win cash and prizes.

The Island Falls Lake Association is sponsoring a one-day event on July 9. Anglers may fish beginning at 6:30 a.m. and the weigh-in will be at 4 p.m. at the snowmobile club on Route 2. Pleasant Lake, Mattawamkeag Lake and the West Branch of Mattawamkeag River from the lake to Route 2 bridge are the only eligible waterways, and fish must be caught by rod and reel. 

Fishing derbies require a special permit from Maine Fisheries and Wildlife via special application and fee from the sponsoring organization. There are a number of special guidelines to be followed and such events are limited in Aroostook.

Most freshwater summer fishing tournaments in Maine center around one or two species, bass being the most prevalent. The Island Falls competition is offering cash prizes for salmon, brook trout, smallmouth bass, pickerel and white perch. There will be adult and youth divisions with each of the top three heaviest fish of each species winning. In the adult 16 and older division prizes are $100, $50 and $35, and or  top three fish of all five species caught by younger anglers prizes are $40, $25 and $15. 

Every youngster who turns in a fish of any size will receive a free lure of their own choosing from a wide selection. As an added incentive, a $50 cash prize will go to the male and female catching the largest fish. An entry fee of $25 is required for each fisherman, but only $20 for seniors over 70 and $10 for youngsters under 16.

All the fish presented at the weigh-in will be cleaned and fileted, then either fried or grilled as the main course in a free meal for anglers and anyone from the area to enjoy. Club members will provide a wide assortment of side dishes and desserts to accompany the delicious fish assortment. 

A raffle drawing will be held during the meal for items including fishing equipment, a drone, a fish finder, a game camera, a vacation at a nearby resort and several other prizes. Folks can enter the fishing derby or buy raffle tickets at Jerry’s Market and at the snowmobile clubhouse where the weigh-in and supper will be held. You can also enter online at right up until 8 a.m. on the morning of the event.

Although most fishermen need no excuse to grab a rod and head for a favorite waterway, this Island Falls derby has a lot of added incentives. It’s also a great opportunity to enjoy a family outing for a day of fun and sun or cajole a casting buddy or two to join the competition. There might be some bragging rights at stake and you’re sure to enjoy some good food and friendship.

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