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The 2005 Great Rotary Fishing Derby

by Michael Edwards

grderby20041.JPG (22870 bytes)

2004 Article | 2000 Article
2005 Winners | 2004 Winners | 2003 Winners |
Link to Meredith Rotary Club

Again the Meredith Rotary Club ran a top notch derby with some awesome prizes...the grand prize being a 2005 GMC 1500 SLE 4WD.  Attendence toped 6,000 anglers and mother nature made some awesome weather for the weekend. 

grderby20042.JPG (21000 bytes)Headquarters
Regular attendees of the derby experienced the normal winter carnival like atmosphere of   Meredith NH, where the Derby headquarters are always located.  There was the usual hustle and bustle of hundreds of anglers driving out onto the lake past the derby headquarters; hundreds of snowmobilers were buzzing about; and hundreds of spectators  watching with interest; while vendors were selling food and merchandise.

The Fishing
The weekend consisted of beautiful blue skies and unseasonably warm temperatures, with the afternoon high's in the 40's.  There was very little breeze, even out on the broads.   The weather on day was perfect...but not for the fish.  It seems as though the fish were not that plentiful during the derby weekend.  Anglers all over the lake commented how slow the fishing was during both Saturday and Sunday.  Many, if not most, said that the fishing was much better during the week leading up to the derby.  

A trip around the lake on Sunday morning yielded few stories of catching fish...but it was a simply beautiful day for traveling around the lake by snowmobile and visiting with anglers.

I launched out of Ellacoya and quickly stopped at a nearby bobhouse to inquire about the fishing.  Lakers were being spotted on both depthfinders and AquaView cameras, but none were picking up the jigs.  I was so determined to find successful anglers that I sped off without even getting names of the anglers I talked with.

Second stop was the shoreline of Diamond Island facing Ames Farm.  There I spoke with Sheila and Jason Brettora, Mark and Shane Davis, Duane and Nathan Patterson, Bob Davis, Pete Ditman and Karen Wells.  They were fishless on the day but were enjoying the weather and some snowmobiling.

I then sped off to the west end of Diamond Island to see how a group was doing that had set up on a hump about 200 yards from the Island.  Again the story of a fishless day was told.  I stayed long enough to eat some Teriyaki Venison with Kyle and Gary Croteau, Nathan Hardy and Pat and Glenn Gagne.  These folks were using cusk traps with chicken livers in 40 feet of water with no luck.

A fast ride out to the broads brought me to the middle of the lake and face to face with Joe Martin.  Joe had by far the best designed bobhouse I have ever seen.  I asked Joe to contact me and hopefully we will be able to do an article on his bobhouse.   Joe is a professional builder and his experience truly showed through in the thoughtful, strong but lightweight design of his ice shanty.  Joe had been on the lake since the Wednesday before the derby and had caught a lot of lakers on these mid-lake humps during Wednesday, Thursday, and early Friday.  And at that point the fishing shut off and moving from hump to hump didn't change the results.  He did have a large laker on the line Saturday night but was not able to land the fish.  He believes the fish would have been on the board since he watched it on the Guide Glen underwater camera when it picked up the bait.  Guess that's why we call it fishing, and not catching.

I then blasted to the Winter Harbor area where I met up with John Clark and his crew.   They were having some luck inside Winter Harbor.  During Saturday and Sunday they managed to land a couple rainbows, 3 salmon (released of course), a couple suckers, a number of lakers including a very nice 30 inch fish that I saw, and a few cusks.  All the fish were caught along the shoreline in 4 to 30 feet of water.

235_1.jpg (29473 bytes)Next stop was a run all the way into Wolfeboro Bay.  A large teepee in the bay caught my eye and I made a beeline for it.  Upon arriving, I met Avon and Gunner Kenison, their nephew Eric, and Gardener and Rebecca Murphy.  They told me that they are 10 year veterans of the derby and caught lake trout both Saturday and Sunday using smelt and suckers on tip-ups.

I then packed up and blasted straight up the lake all the way to Guilford Beach.   There I stopped off at a truck sitting on the ice with a camper.  The ice was kindof slushy and I had to meet the guys that felt safe enough on such a warm day to have such a heavy setup on the ice.  I learned that the ice under the truck was over 18 inches thick so I felt safe enough to stop long enough to ask how the fishing was going.   Adam Anderson and John Czasnowski told me that they hadn't caught a fish in 2 days, but were enyoying the weather.

At this point it was getting near the end of the derby and I had to head up to Meredith to interview the winners. So, with a quick goodbye I blasted past the witches and up Meredith Bay.

grderby20045.jpg (23624 bytes)Derby Headquarters and the Winners

In the hectic pace of the awards ceremony it's often hard to get interviews with all the winners.  As in the past I did my best and here is what I heard.

The grand prize winner was Neil Doiron from Hudson, NH.  Anyone in the crowd can tell you that Neil was fired up during the last hour up to the close of the derby.   This 25 year old angler was looking at a chance to win a 2005 GMC Sierra 1500 SLE 4x4 valued at over $30,000.  Who could blame him.  When the winner was finally announced, I think everyone on the entire lake from Meredith to Lees to Wolfeboro to Alton Bay knew that Neil had won.  Neil had one flag, caught one fish, and won the 2005 Great Meredith Rotary Ice Fishing Derby with a tagged rainbow that weighed 2.91 pounds.   The fish was caught in 4 feet of water on a sandy spot at 8:15am Saturday morning on a large shiner.  Although the exact spot was not revealed, it was somewhere at the end of Meredith Bay.

4th place cusk was caught sometime Saturday night by Gary Longley off Eagle Island in 15 feet of water with a rocky bottom using a cusk trap.  Gary was accompanied on the ice by his wife Valerie and his son Josh.  Gary attributed his success to two things: 1) large shiners, 2) a bell tied to the line about a foot from the hook which made a noise every time the shiner moved.  He read about this technique somewhere and is convinced it allowed him to catch a number of nice cusk during the derby.  5 years ago Gary was also 4th place winner for cusk at the derby, so he seems to know what he is talking about.

1st place lake trout was caught by Paul Cayer of Tamworth.  Paul would only say the fish was caught on Winni somewhere near the Bear Island area in 38 feet of water using medium shiners on Saturday morning.  No matter how hard I pressed, he wouldn't give up the spot.  This was Paul's fourth year fishing the derby and he fished with his brother Jim.  The team also caught 4 other lake trout on their spot while jigging.

The Wrap Up

That's the results from my annual tour around Lake Winnipesaukee during the Great Rotary Derby.  I should mention that the dearth of pictures is due in part to my over-enjoyment of my 2004 Yamaha Warrior snowmobile.  You see, this is the 1000cc four-stroke that is capable of speeds in excess of 120 mph.  Well, it also is great for jumping.  They sled and its rider (me ;-) survived the trip, but the digital camera did not.  Sorry for the lack of pictures this year, but thanks to everyone that sent in their pic's for me to use with the article.

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