UM student plans statewide, season-long ice fishing derby

It’s December, we seem to have finally shaken off the unseasonably warm weather (for a day or two, at least), and winter is nearly upon us.

So, I suppose, it’s time to start looking forward to those days when your favorite lake or pond is covered with ice. To those days when it’s so cold, it hurts to breathe. To those days when your toes turn into frozen piggies and you sit for hours on a five-gallon bucket thinking, “What was I thinking?”

It’s time to start looking forward to ice fishing season.

I’m clearly poking fun. Count me among those who enjoys spending time on the “hard water,” visiting with pals and chasing flags.

If you’re a member of that club, I’ve got big news for you today: You are cordially invited to take part in a benefit ice fishing derby. The best news: You don’t even have to look at your datebook to see if you’re available, or look at a map to see if it’s taking place nearby.

The reason: The derby will last for three full months. And you can fish wherever you want.

Wes Ashe, a graduate assistant in the wildlife ecology program at the University of Maine, checked earlier this week and provided all the details on the event.

“I work in a department with a bunch of ice-fishing fanatics, so last year I started a season-long ice fishing tourney to add a little bit of competition to our weekly excursions,” he wrote in an email. “There were only a small number of anglers who took part last year, but it was a good deal of fun.”

This year, Ashe decided to open the event up to anyone who wants to participate. And he decided to turn the tournament into a benefit event in honor of an old friend.

“This year’s tourney is also a benefit on behalf of the family of Alec Cyr,” he wrote. “Alec was a high school buddy of mine (Bangor High School, 1994), who died — much too young — from colon cancer a little over one month ago. He was a good man, but an even better father and husband.”

Ashe said half the proceeds from the event, which is simply called the “2nd annual Ice Fishin’ Tourney & Benefit,’ will go into an education account for Cyr’s son, Chase.

The rules:

  • Pay your $10 entry fee by delivering it to Wes Ashe at 232A Nutting Hall, UMaine, or mailing it to 55 North Main Ave., Orono, 04473. Include contact information including name, address, phone and email address.
  • Fish on any legal water in Maine from Jan. 1 through March 31.
  • Target any species you want. The longest fish for each species wins that category.
  • Email a photo of each fish with a tourney card to
  • At the end of the season fishermen who have caught the longest recorded fish in each category will have their name placed in a lottery for a chance at the total purse.

“It’s kind of a cool tourney because all fishes are treated equal,” Ashe wrote. “A landlocked salmon is equal to a yellow perch, etc.”

The coolest thing: “The fish doesn’t have to be killed in order to be entered in the tourney,” Ashe wrote. Just snap a photo and release the fish.

Ashe said entrants will have access to a spreadsheet listing the largest fish in each category so that competitors can target species that have yet to be entered, or try to top measurements that may be deemed easier to surpass.

Annika Rod & Fly open house on tap

For the past 11 years, Don Corey has run a small business — Annika Rod and Fly — that combined his passion for teaching with his expertise in fly tying and rod building.

A disclosure: During regular working hours, Corey can be found here at 491 Main, as a longtime employee of the Bangor Daily News.

Over that 11 years, Annika business took place at outdoor shows or in the basement of his Holden home. On Saturday, that will change.

Corey is welcoming visitors to a grand opening at the Annika Rod and Fly Learning Center, which will run from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. The new digs are located at 36 Kingsbury Road in Holden. From Bangor, Kingsbury Road is a right-hand turn off Route 1A as you head toward the intersection of Route 46.

Corey said he’ll be giving away food all day, including hot dogs, soda, coffee, and his wife Diane’s famous cookies. Door prizes and giveaways are also planned, and one lucky winner will take home an HMH SX pedestal vise.

Visitors are invited to browse the fly tying and rod building inventory, and the talented Annika Pro Staff will be tying flies all day long.

If you’re unable to stop by during the open house, Corey says his shop will be open Tuesday and Friday nights, 5-8 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Appointments can be made for Corey to open up at other times.

The Learning Center will be busy in January, as Corey will begin staging Saturday tying classes, as well as rod-building classes.

For more information check out

John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.