WAYNE — Before Abby St. Clair helped haul the largemouth bass out of Berry Pond, through a hole in the ice about 2-feet deep, she had a question.

“Is it an eating one?” yelled the 9-year-old, after an orange flag had sprung up from the wooden trap, signaling a fish on the line.

“Yeah, that’s dinner!” said her mother, Chris St. Clair.

But Abby wouldn’t be taking the catch to her home in Winthrop after all. After a scale showed it to weigh a relatively modest 2.07 pounds, she dropped it back through the freshly drilled hole.

No bother, for the St. Clair family, the Sunday outing was the culmination of a weeklong February vacation in which Abby, her older sister Sara, and her parents had been ice fishing multiple times. Earlier in the week, they’d caught – and consumed – a pickerel from Maranacook Lake. On Saturday, they’d participated in a much larger youth fishing derby hosted by Jacks Traps Ice Fishing Outfitters, on Cochnewagon Pond in Monmouth.

On Sunday, Abby said that she appreciated how much space was available to her on the relatively uncrowded Wayne pond. To celebrate her catch, she posed with it while others snapped her picture.

Abby was one of a small number of children participating in a low-key youth fishing derby hosted by Sports Unlimited of Maine, a Wayne-based organization.

According to the derby’s organizers, having fun was more important than landing the biggest prey. And besides, 2 pounds could register as pretty large to a young child.

“It may seem small to us, but to someone her age, it probably seemed shark-sized,” said Corey Ford, a member of the Wayne organization.

Sports Unlimited of Maine was holding the derby for area children as part of a series of state-sponsored events called Hooked on Fishing, which try to get children outside. As the derby progressed, the organizers served hot dogs and hot chocolate to keep the chill and hunger at bay.

Such events seem to be having some success. According to Pat St. Clair, Abby’s father, his daughters have a Nintendo Wii video game system that he never sees them using.

Two other girls participating in the derby were Elyse and Jac-Lynne Hinkley of Winthrop, ages 8 and 4, respectively. They’d come with their grandfather Guy Hinkley, as well as their mother, Amber Hinkley, and her partner, Bjorn Coyne.

Both girls helped locate spots for their grandfather to drill holes through the ice, then pick little bait fish – smelt – for him to hook on their traps.

Jac-Lynne helped pull the large sled that contained their gear over the ice. She didn’t seem to mind when, after she stopped moving, the sled’s momentum caused it to keep sliding, bumping into her and knocking her over.

“I usually like to watch the flag and nibble on food,” said Elyse.

She said that last year she placed second in the derby after catching a 5-pound fish. But she agreed the event was about more than competition.

Asked what she liked most about the derby, she said, “I like to spend time with my family.”

Charles Eichacker can be contacted at 621-5642 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker