MONMOUTH — At only 3 years old, Timothy Hall, of Greenville, already loves to ice fish.

Some might say he’s just getting started, especially now that he’s won a lifetime Maine fishing license.

Hall was one of 20 children to win a license during Jack Traps’ annual Youth Ice Fishing Derby on Cochnewagon Lake. He fished with the help of his family, including his Monmouth grandparents, Gary and Cindy Hall.

The Jack Traps derby was the largest yet, with more than 500 children fishing on the lake by noon Saturday, according to Shawn Norton, the store’s manager. With guardians and family members, there were far more than 1,000 people on the lake.

“For a small town, this is a big deal,” Tim Jackson told a crowd of families on the lake, who flooded from around the state to participate in his company’s annual derby.

The derby, in its 10th year, started, Debbi Jackson said, because her husband, Tim, wanted to get children outside ice fishing.

On Saturday, children were not only ice fishing; they were sledding, having snowball fights and more.

“The day is all about getting the kids on the ice, off the electronics and into the outdoors,” Norton said.

The bulk of families participating in the event brought their own gear; but for new fishermen, such as 12-year-old Macgyver Blundon, of Monmouth, who had ice-fished only once with Boy Scouts, Jack Traps supplied the gear.

When the flag on Macgyver’s trap was tripped, he ran to see his catch with his family members at his side. Gently he pulled in the line, but the pressure went away, and only his bait fish dangled from the hook.

“Just a hit,” said Macgyver’s dad, Robert Blundon. He enjoyed ice fishing, he said, but it was hard to find the time to get to the lake.

“This gives me a chance to spend time with my kids,” he said.

Macgyver also fished with his sisters, Danyka and Isabella, who were fishing for the first time; and with stepbrothers Shawn and Chris Kirby.

Down the lake, a Litchfield family could have called the ice home. Smoke floated from their wooden ice shack, socks dried in front of a wood stove, and 1-year-old Gideon Hankley napped in the warmth while 5-year-old Chad Hankley II jigged for fish from an interior hole.

Their dad, Chad Hankley, was born and raised in the state but had been around the country. Looking at Cochnewagon Lake, he knew Maine was his home.

“I don’t think I would change,” he said. 

Hankley’s wife, Felicia, originally from California, became passionate about the sport too. Now they fish with their sons, and the derby became a tradition once they had their own youngsters who could fish.

The derby, in its 10th year, was not a competition; there was no weigh-in. Children had the chance to win the lifetime fishing licenses along with lots of prizes, such as an ice auger, a portable ice shack, traps and baskets. Each child also picked up a prize pack that had snacks, hand warmers, a Jack Traps hat and other items.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife stocked the pond with brook trout Friday. Bait was free for the children, volunteers assisted new fishermen, and Monmouth Fish & Game served hot dogs, hot chocolate and other refreshments.

 

Abigail Austin — 621-5631
[email protected]
Twitter: @AbigailAustinKJ


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