The Sebago Lake and Cumberland County Fishing Derbies are scheduled for this weekend. Jane Vaughan / Lakes Region Weekly

Fisherman will take to the ice this weekend for the Cumberland County and Sebago Lake Fishing Derbies.

It’s a lot of fun,” said Ronald Drown of Gray, who has been fishing in the region for over 50 years. “It’s that time of year. Other than snowmobiling, there’s not much going on. I have a good time.”

He enjoys seeing so many young kids taking part in the derbies.

Back when it first started, there were a lot of old timers out there,” Drown said. But the kids are “definitely getting a lot braver. But I used to be young and foolish just like them. We try to get the younger generation, keep them away from their cellphones.”

He and Brian LaBreck of Standish, who has participated in the derbies since they began in 2001, both said they regret seeing fewer fisherman turn out for the derbies than in the past.

It’s shrunk in size compared to what it used to be,” LaBreck said. “There used to be a lot more participation from area businesses. It’s tough for the people that support the derby.”

Some of that decline is due to warmer weather, he said, as participants have “just started wandering to different tournaments where there’s ice.”

Sebago Lake “just doesn’t freeze every year,” LaBreck said. “Sebago is a beast.

Jennifer LaBreck of Standish with a 32.5-inch lake trout she caught at the derby in 2018. Courtesy photo

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. As of Wednesday, both derbies were still on for this weekend, Feb. 22-23.

This year going’s to be a little iffy,” Drown said. “Last year, the whole lake was pretty much frozen. This year is quite different.”

The derbies, organized by the Sebago Lake Rotary Club, are “a great cause,” LaBreck said. “They work really hard to do what they do.”

This year, the derby is offering $2,500 in bonus cash prizes for togue and pike, along with the Kittery Trading Post Gift Cards for first, second and third place winners, plus another $2,500 in cash prize drawings for every togue and pike caught and brought from Sebago Lake to the weigh stations. Twenty-five of those names will be drawn for a $100 cash prize each.

There is no slot limit this year where general fishing laws apply, and there is no bag limit and no minimum length limit for togue under 26 inches. The daily bag limit on togue equal to or greater than 26 inches is one fish.

The fish that is donated will be delivered to Nova Seafood in Portland, where it will be filleted, flash frozen and delivered to food pantries.

The awards event will take place at Windham Indoor Shooting Range, 999 Roosevelt Trail, Windham on Feb. 23 at 6 p.m.

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