Favorable conditions leading up to the Cumberland County and Sebago Lake Fishing Derbies are pointing to a successful time on the ice Feb. 16-17, according to the president of Sebago Lake Rotary Club, the derbies’ sponsor.

“Last year, we ended up with 18 inches of ice. This year, it’s looking really good. We keep track of that and talk to the wardens up to several days prior to make sure conditions are safe,” Cyndy Bell said.

The Cumberland County Derby was cancelled in 2015 due to deteriorating ice conditions, and the Sebago Lake Derby was cancelled in 2012, 2013, 2016 and 2017. 

“Last year was an amazing year, one of the best for many, many years,” Bell said, and she is hopeful that those favorable conditions will continue this year. Past cancellations have not affected the number of registrations this year, which she said are “coming in as in previous years.”

One new change to the derbies concerns the slot limit for togue. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is trying to decrease the togue population in Sebago Lake, so the slot limit – the size at which fish must be returned to the water – has increased, Bell said. In previous years, fish between 23 and 33 inches had to be released, but this year, the release requirement is for fish between 26 and 33 inches. That will help decrease the population of smaller togue in Sebago Lake, which she said are “the more ravenous feeders.”

There are gift card prizes for the top three largest pike, perch (white or yellow), pickerel and togue. The largest prize is a $1,000 Kittery Trading Post gift card for the largest togue. 

Panther Run Marina has donated an outboard motor to the competitions, and fishermen will be entered in a secondary drawing for the motor. 

In addition, each participant will be entered into a drawing for a 2019 Commander ATV 500 from Windham Power Sports. 

The 17th annual polar dip to benefit children battling cancer and blood disorders will be held as usual, on Sat., Feb. 16, at noon at the Raymond boat launch. There will also be helicopter rides on Saturday at 11 a.m. on Raymond Beach. 

“We’re certainly hoping that it’ll be a good year,” said Bell, who is an advertising accounts manager for Lakes Region Weekly.

For more information about the derbies and to register, visit www.icefishingderby.com.

Jane Vaughan can be reached at 780-9103 or at [email protected] 

Signs had to be altered after the Sebago Lake Derby was cancelled in 2016. 

Fisherman on the ice in 2016 before the Sebago Lake Derby was cancelled. 

Dylan Dodge of Raymond brought in last year’s third-place pike after fishing on Sebago Lake’s Kettle Cove.