On the weekend of January 30th, the frozen surface of Lake Winnipesaukee will be transformed into a bustling metropolis of ice-fishing bob houses and folks gathered to participate in one of the Lakes Regions biggest winter events—The 31st Great Rotary Fishing Derby!
The two-day Ice Fishing Derby is one of the top fund-raising events in the state, enabling The Meredith Rotary Club to donate more than $1.6 million back into the community for charitable projects, area improvements, and scholarships. The Rotary Club, in consultation with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, also stocks tagged fish in several New Hampshire Lakes as part of an ongoing fisheries management plan.
The Derby brings visitors to New Hampshire from all over the country. Fishermen, their families, and friends come to Meredith in hopes of catching the heaviest Rotary-tagged Rainbow Trout and claiming the grand prize. This year’s First Prize is an 18-foot Pioneer sport fiberglass fishing boat and Tidewater trailer valued at over $25,500. Second Prize is a Honda ATV and trailer valued at $6,500, and Third Prize is an Old Town sporting kayak with trolling motor package valued at $1,100.
On Friday, January 29th, The Rotary Club will host a free ice fishing panel discussion from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Meredith Community Center to kickoff the weekend. According to Rob Wichland, chairman of the 2010 Great Meredith Rotary Fishing Derby, “The panel discussion events we’ve hosted since 2006 were such a great success, we’re doing it again in 2010.” Don Miller of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, as well as Travis Williams and Adrien Lavoie, licensed New Hampshire fishing guides, will discuss ice fishing tips, techniques, and equipment. Light refreshments will be served.
Tickets for the Derby are $30 and are available at more than a dozen locations around Lake Winnipesaukee, including A.J.’s Bait and Tackle, the Winnisquam Trading Post, Skelly’s Market, Alton Circle Grocery and at Paugus Bay Sporting Goods. You can also purchase tickets online (click on “items”), or by calling The Meredith Rotary Club at 603-279-7600. Online ticket sales prior to January 18th will be mailed to the address provided. After that, requested tickets may be picked up at Derby Headquarters at Hesky Park in Meredith. Headquarters will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. on Friday, January 29th, 2010 and will open again at 5:00 a.m. on Saturday, January 30th. If the Derby is postponed, your tickets cannot be refunded, but will be honored when the event is rescheduled.
Postponement is unlikely. As of January 12th, virtually all of Lake Winnipesaukee is now frozen. The current lake temp is 32.9ºF and dropping slowly. Low temps for this upcoming week are expected to range between five and ten degrees, allowing the ice to thicken up quickly. Looks like the conditions will be right for a great Derby!