Most of Maine barely has enough snow to enjoy the outdoors, and adding insult to injury is the limited amount of safe ice on many of the state’s lakes and ponds, forcing derbies to be canceled ice fishing premises.
So far this winter, warm temperatures and a significant rain storm before Christmas have been instrumental in slowing ice formation in many areas of Maine.
The state is experiencing a warm stretch, including December temperatures in Bangor that were 5 degrees warmer than average. The lack of ice and snow is disrupting an iconic derby season, along with activities like snowmobiling, Nordic skiing and pond skating.
In an attempt to attract early season anglers, some organizations schedule ice fishing derbies beginning in mid-January. There is less competition than in February, when numerous events are scheduled around the state.
However, previous derbies are also at risk of falling victim to unsafe ice conditions.
The 6th Annual Oak Hill Pike Derby, which had been scheduled for February 4 at Sabattus Lake, has been canceled. This derby serves as a fundraiser for extracurricular activities at Oak Hill High School in Wales.
“It’s a shame we had to cancel it because of the weather,” said Amy Raymond, president of the Oak Hill High School Booster Club. “This is a great fundraiser for our club. We are currently looking at other fundraisers we could do to bring money in.”
Raymond, who can see Lake Sabattus from his home, said Wednesday that there are visible areas of open water. Saturday’s forecast, which includes heavy rain and temperatures near 50 degrees, is expected to make matters worse.
“It’s unfortunate that Mother Nature wasn’t on our side,” Raymond said.
The cancellation of the derby means the Oak Hill High School Booster Club likely won’t be able to do as much to help its students, which previously included buying new uniforms and equipment for its sports teams.
“We’ve made close to $40,000 in the past,” Raymond said. “It’s gone down a bit, but it’s still worth doing.”
The club returns tickets that have already been purchased.
The Dexter Fish and Game Association has canceled its annual ice fishing derby, which was scheduled for Jan. 14-15, due to unsafe ice conditions on Lake Wassookeag.
The club hopes that people who were planning to participate in the ice fishing derby will consider purchasing tickets for their raffle items. Among the things up for grabs are 10 different firearms and a crossbow.
Tickets for the gun and crossbow raffle are $10 each or six for $50, while tickets for the non-firearm raffle are $5 each. Members will sell tickets on Friday and again from 9am to 5pm on Saturday and 9am to 4pm on Sunday at the Lakeshore Restaurant in Dexter. Tickets are also available at Pond View Sports in Dexter.
The Youth Ice Fishing Derby scheduled for Saturday at Lake St. George at Liberty has also been canceled due to unsafe ice conditions.
The Icefishforkids Horne Pond Derby in Limington has been postponed until February 11th. This event benefits the Standish Fish and Game Club and the Bonny Eagle Backpack Program.
As of Wednesday, organizers still planned to move forward with the North Anson Snowmobile Club derby scheduled for Saturday at Sandy Pond in Embden and the Operation Reboot OutDoors derby scheduled for Jan. 21 at Great Pond.