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Anticipation builds for this year's Rotary Fishing Derby


January 27, 2010
MEREDITH — The ice is ready, the fish are stocked, and tickets are selling well in the week before the 31st annual Great Meredith Rotary Fishing Derby.

This year's derby kicks off on Saturday and runs through Sunday afternoon with anglers taking to the ice in lakes across the state.

Derby Chair Rob Wichland said there are 20 percent more presale tickets thus far with close to 1,800 to 2,100 presales. Organizers hope to sell 6,000 tickets this year, exceeding last year's sales of around 5,500 tickets.

"I think it's a great, fun thing for the economy that's fairly inexpensive," Wichland said. "We've got pretty good ice conditions this year."

Wichland said there was around 12 inches of ice in Meredith Bay and some other bays have more ice.

"Winnipesaukee froze before Winnisquam; the ice should be fairly good for the derby," said Fish and Game fisheries biologist Don Miller.

Wichland and Miller both said people should check the ice before going out on it.

The rainbow trout population is also looking good for the derby. Wishland said 1,000 tagged rainbow trout were put into Lake Winnipesaukee and Miller said there was around 3,000 to 4,000 rainbow trout in Winnipesaukee, Winnisquam, Squam Lake, and Newfound Lake.

Derby headquarters is now in place at Hesky Park

"We're pretty much on target," Wichland said. "We've had our meetings with the town, we're just waiting for the derby to take place."

Tickets will be sold on Friday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. and until noon on Saturday.

Prizes will be awarded each day for fish. The grand prize fish will be announced around 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.

The grand prizewinner will receive an 18-foot Pioneer Sport fishing boat worth $25,000. Second prize is a Honda Fourtrax Rancher ATV worth $6,500 and third place is an Old Town Ambush sporting kayak with motor package valued at $1,100.

Around $61,000 will be given out in cash and prizes.

"You do not have to catch a fish to win many of our prizes," Wichland said.

The derby will give out $100 every 15 minutes in a raffle for ticket holders and a $5,000 drawing for ticket holders will be held on Saturday and Sunday.

"We're seeing tickets bought from all over," Wichland said, saying many people are buying tickets from Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and other places. "People from Texas and California, Minnesota, all over the country really. "It's a beautiful place to come, it supports out local community and scholarships. It's fun. The fishing trip will be pretty good."

Money raised at the derby goes toward community efforts, such as charitable projects, area improvements, scholarships, and people in need.

A free ice-fishing panel will be held on Friday at the community center from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Miller and Travis Williams and Adrien Lavoie, licensed New Hampshire fishing guides, will discuss ice fishing tips, techniques and equipment. Light refreshments will be served.

Martin Lord Osman
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