Derby History

Delve into the storied past of the Long Lake Ice Fishing Derby on our 'Derby History' page. Discover the origins, memorable moments, and the legacy that has made this event a cherished winter tradition.

Casting Through Time: The Derby's History

In the autumn of 2005, as the leaves whispered the arrival of another harsh Maine winter, the members of the Black Bear Rod & Gun Club faced the closing season with a sense of longing. The camaraderie and lively spirit that had imbued their gatherings seemed poised to hibernate along with the natural world. It was then that a spark of inspiration struck—one member, envisioning lines cast over icy waters, proposed an ice fishing derby to break the winter’s spell.

The idea quickly took root. The St. Agatha Town Manager, upon hearing the proposal, responded with a vigor that matched the club members’ own. With a blend of seed money and unwavering support from both the Club and the Town, they reached out to the Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Department. The necessary permits were secured, and the wheels of what would become a cherished tradition were set in motion.

January 2006 marked the inaugural Long Lake Ice Fishing Derby, an event that exceeded every expectation. The community’s response was not just enthusiastic; it was electric. The success was undeniable, and the annual continuity of the Derby was assured.

As the Derby flourished, a new question arose: What should be done with the proceeds? The answer came with heartrending clarity. The Edgar J. Paradis Cancer Fund, born from the final wish of a young man from Frenchville who valiantly faced leukemia, became the beneficiary of the Derby’s success. His family had founded the fund to ease the journey of St. John Valley residents in need of cancer treatments far from home. In honoring his legacy, the Derby has proudly donated over $100,000 to the Fund, intertwining the joy of fishing with the profound cause of community support.

Thus, the Long Lake Ice Fishing Derby stands today not only as an event of competition and leisure but as a beacon of hope and giving. It is a testament to the power of community, the warmth of shared purpose, and the enduring impact of a single idea kindled in the spirit of togetherness.

The Story Behind The Image​

In the early 70’s a group of deer hunters from Connecticut came to Fort Kent to hunt. One of them was a personal friend that I had met many years prior. Some of the original group have continued to come since.

15+ years ago, one stopped coming. This fellow knew that I was an avid fisherman. Four years ago, he sent me all his ice fishing equipment. I was so honored. I decided to fish with his equipment and send him a photo of the first fish I caught with it.

The first day that took out his equipment, I caught the fish that is in the photo above. I was so pleased to see the fish on the ice and took special care to orchestrate the photo. I then sent him the photo.

– Donald R. | Derby Committee Member