Tuesday, December 10, 2013
For the past 31 years, Acton resident Scott Davis has spent the last Sunday of every January sitting by an ice fishing hole at Ham Cove. It's a practice he began at age 4, with his grandfather near the Davis family camp on Mousam Lake.
Five years ago, Davis, 35, turned the tradition into an ice-fishing competition among family and close friends, keeping it fun but personal. An avid outdoorsman, he prizes the annual outing as much for the potential fish he may catch as for the camaraderie the sport affords.
So, this year, Davis raised the stakes. He opened the competition to all ice-fishing enthusiasts, asking them to converge on Jan. 31 at their favorite ice fishing spot on any legally fished York County lake or pond for a chance to win up to $750 for the largest fish caught.
For the first time ever, Davis will not be a part of the action. Rather, he'll oversee efforts to get others on the ice to take part in the premiere York County Lakes Region Ice Fishing Tournament, benefiting spina bifida research.
Davis isn't complaining because, for him, the event is still personal.
Several years ago, Davis and wife, Richi Davis, lost their second child, a daughter, to complications of spina bifida (birth defects in the spine that affect neural function) during Richi's sixth month of pregnancy. They also grieved a second miscarriage a few years later. (That miscarriage was not due to spina bifida.)
Richi is now pregnant with a daughter, due in mid-February.
''We've been on walking on eggshells and didn't come up with a name for the baby until last weekend. We wanted to know the baby would be born healthy,'' said Scott, who is donating proceeds from the event to benefit spina bifida research.
''This fishing weekend has always been fun. And it was starting to get big. For several years now, I've wanted to start something that would support a good cause and help others.
''So, I thought, let's take this to the state level and do it as a fundraiser. I can't be on the ice this year, but I'll be happy to be where I need to be to make this happen.''
The Springvale Fish and Game Club, known for its ice fishing educational opportunities for area sportsmen and their families, will sponsor the event, and Scott has received additional support from businesses that donated cash, goods and services totaling $6,000 to be given out as cash prizes
''We'll be giving away door prizes every half-hour throughout the event,'' said Scott.
''The top three prizes, for adults, are $750 for largest fish (by weight), $400 for second place and $250 for third. We'll also have four $100 bonus prizes. In kids categories, it's $100 for first place, $75 and $50 for second and third.''
Participants may register in advance by going to the club's Web site at www.springvale fishandgame.org/ or on derby day, beginning at 6:30 a.m. However, in order to be eligible to win the top prize, all entries must be through the gates at the Acton Fairgrounds weigh-in station by 3:30 p.m. sharp.
''This is a major fishing tourney, with a big purse for the largest fish caught,'' said Scott. ''We want to put together a well-organized effort. The hardest thing is getting the word out about what we're doing.
''And people who aren't fishing can make still make a donation toward the cause for a chance to win prizes. We're giving away door prizes every 30 minutes for things like fishing traps and gift certificates from various local businesses.''
Going forward, Scott envisions the annual event becoming a weekend fishing festival, possibly co-sponsored by the town and offering opportunities to give demonstrations and teach others about the sport of fishing, especially for the children.
''I'd like to beef up the kids categories and see them all walk away with some type of prize for that day -- things to help introduce them to the sport,'' said Scott, who routinely fishes with his son Aric, 9.
Staff Writer Deborah Sayer can be contacted at 791-6308 or at: