A few years ago, I spent an enjoyable weekend fishing with Rich Rossignol during the Long Lake Ice Fishing Derby. In fact, I had such a good time, I went back and fished with him again the next year.
Rossignol and his friends are avid anglers. They show up early, stay as late as possible, and (this is my favorite part) they know that slow fishing is not a reason to have a miserable time on the ice. When the fishing’s slow, Rossignol and his pals — men, women, entire families — are still smiling. They’re also probably eating something really tasty … see? I told you this was my favorite part.
During my weekends fishing not far from Birch Point, I also learned that Rossignol was an eternal optimist. When a flag went up — anyone’s flag — he always seemed convinced that the derby-winner was attached to the other end of the line.
Unfortunately, when I fished with him that optimism was unfounded.
But over the recent weekend’s 8th annual derby, that positive outlook was rewarded … to the tune of $1,500.
Rossignol checked in on Monday to find out if I’d heard his big news. I had: On a lake known for producing large landlocked salmon, Rossignol caught the largest of the weekend: A bruiser that weighed 7 pounds, 14.2 ounces.
It was the largest he’s ever caught, he said. Most importantly, he caught it at the right time: During a derby that pays top anglers hefty prize money. This year’s derby drew 624 entrants — an all-time record.
Alas, I stayed home this year. Trying to emulate Rossignol’s can-do attitude, I have been telling myself that had I made the trip north, that fish would have … may have … visited one of my traps instead. Of course, that’s not true: Rossignol lives on the lake. He fishes it hard during the winter. And finally, that expertise paid off.
Another highlight for me: I also learned that another St. John Valley resident, Scott Picard, finished third in the brook trout category with an 18-incher that weighed 2 pounds, 0.8 ounces and earned him $300. I have also shared time in a boat with Picard, and fished with him on the ice of Long Lake.
The fact that two people I have fished with caught huge fish and earned substantial cash tells me I’m fishing with the right people.
It also tells me that I’m not learning fast enough.
The complete list of Long Lake Ice Fishing Derby winners (Note: The derby lakes included Long, Cross, St. Froid, Square, Eagle, Glazier and Beau lakes):
Landlocked salmon: 1. Rich Rossignol, 7 pounds, 14.2 ounces ($1,500), 2. Ken Cormier, 7 pounds, 5.4 ounces ($750), 3. Tyler Thibeault, 5 pounds, 12.2 ounces ($300)
Brook trout: 1. Isaiah Sypian, 2 pounds, 15.4 ounces ($1,000), 2. Matthew Toussaint, 2 pounds, 13.4 ounces ($500), 3. Scott Picard, 2 pounds, 0.8 ounces ($300)
Togue: 1. Ryan Wishart, 9 pounds, 10 ounces ($1,500), 2. Gary Milton, 8 pounds, 2.6 ounces ($750), 3. Steve Bossie, 7 pounds, 9.2 ounces ($300)
Muskie: 1. Allen Albert, 15 pounds, 9 ounces ($750), 2. Dan Dionne, 13 pounds, 8 ounces ($250), 3. Jacques Daigle, 12 pounds, 0 ounces ($250)
Cusk: 1. Steve Raymond, 11 pounds, 11.2 ounces ($500), 2. Mason Raymond, 10 pounds, 6.2 ounces ($250), 3. Mason Raymond, 9 pounds, 13 ounces ($100)
Most perch: Heather Martin, 186 fish ($75)
Youth landlocked salmon: 1. Logan Cyr, 4 pounds, 3.6 ounces ($200 savings bond plus $100), 2. Damian Nadeau, 2 pounds, 4.2 ounces ($75), 3. Tyler Ouellette, 2 pounds, 4.0 ounces ($50)
Youth brook trout: 1. Ciarra Thibodeau, 1 pound, 5.8 ounces ($100), 2. Jared Thibodeau, 1 pound, 2.6 ounces ($75), 3. Anthony Daigle, 1 pound, 0.4 ounces ($50)
Youth togue: 1. Nathan Pelletier, 6 pounds, 7.6 ounces ($100)