The first HollandStrong Fishing Derby is taking to the ice Saturday on Livermore’s Round Pond.

The derby is in honor of Michael Holland, the 25-year-old Wilton mariner who died when the cargo ship El Faro was lost on Oct. 1 with 33 crew members aboard. All proceeds from the derby will go to the HollandStrong Memorial Scholarship, established by Holland’s mother, Deb Roberts.

As of Thursday, the ice on Round Pond was 12 inches thick with some water on top from recent rain, according to Curtis Cloutier, a derby organizer. The derby will go forward as long ice thickness stays above 8 inches, Cloutier said.

Organizers are hoping for cold weather through Saturday, but an alternate date of March 5 has been set if any problems come up.

“We’re not anticipating any issues,” Roberts said. “We feel pretty confident.”

The derby was organized by Cloutier and Johnny Yankura, two of Holland’s Mt. Blue High School classmates. Yankura and Cloutier have been organizing a charitable fishing derby on Round Pond for the last five years, originally started by Cloutier’s uncle. The two approached Roberts to ask if they could make the sixth year the first annual derby in honor of Holland.

Given Holland’s interests, Roberts thought a fishing derby was a more than appropriate way to remember and honor her son.

“Fishing, hunting — anything outdoors, Michael preferred,” Roberts said. “Everybody joked that in the winter he always had his Carhartt overalls on. He’s going to be there in spirit.”

Cloutier said the Round Pond derby will be known as the HollandStrong Fishing Derby to keep their friend’s memory, and passion for fishing, going strong.

“He was an avid outdoorsman. He pretty regularly out-fished everyone,” Cloutier said.

Derbygoers will be able to register from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. for a fee of $5. The final weigh-in of any fish must be done by 4 p.m. to qualify for the derby’s prizes and trophies.

The derby is open to any age, with cash prizes for adults and children. For adults, first prize for the longest trout is $1,200, with second place receiving $600 and $400 going to third place. Youths will be judged on the longest of any type of fish, with the winner receiving $300.

In past years, Cloutier said, the derby has been low-key; but the organizers have seen an outpouring of support this year to make cash prizes available, provided by more than 30 sponsors.

“Michael just left a mark on so many people’s lives, and they just feel like they had to do something,” Roberts said.

Food, beverages and HollandStrong merchandise will be available at the derby. Roberts said pre-orders for T-shirts already have raised $2,000.

All proceeds for the event will help support the HollandStrong Memorial Scholarship. Graduating seniors from Mt. Blue High School in Farmington, Spruce Mountain High School in Jay and Levitt Area High School in Turner who are entering a degree program in engineering or vocational trade will be eligible for the scholarship. Roberts said this year she wants to be able to grant a scholarship to a student from each school, to give back to the community that supported her family during the loss of the El Faro, and ultimately her son.

“To me, that’s the ‘Holland Strong’ community that rallied around us when we heard the ship was missing,” Roberts said. “We want to give back.”

Lauren Abbate — 861-9252

[email protected]

Twitter: @Lauren_M_Abbate

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