SEBAGO — For the third time in the 11-year history of the Sebago ice fishing derby, it has been canceled due to a lack of ice.

But this may bode well for togue fishermen statewide.

The big prize of $100,000 rolled out last year for anyone who breaks the 54-year-old state record for togue now applies to all lakes around Maine during the Sebago statewide derby, which is March 3 and 4.

This is the earliest the Windham Rotary Club has ever canceled the Sebago derby, which drew about 3,500 anglers to Sebago Lake last year and as many as 6,000 in the past. But derby founder Tom Noonan said the ice was too unsafe, and with good ice in other parts of Maine, derby officials decided not to wait to direct all efforts to the statewide derby.

“Basically, we closed it down because of obvious safety issues. But there are a lot of places in Maine with decent ice,” Noonan said. “We decided not to wait to the last minute so people could make plans and we could market the statewide derby.”

After running the Sebago derby for 10 years, Noonan decided after last year to work full time on the statewide derby to try to grow it into the largest derby in North America with more than 20,000 ice fishermen entered.

The state record prize may be the hook he needs.

The record 31.8-pound fish was caught by Hollis Grindle of Ellsworth in 1958 on Beech Hill Pond in Otis.

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