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Derby draws early crowd
ROXBURY- Before the light of day even hit snow covered Ellis Pond on Saturday, Roland Patneaude watched from his camp window as dozens of headlights were seen crisscrossing the ice to get first dibs on the favored fishing spots.
Even in sub-zero temperatures people were ready to catch the prize fish worth $2,000 at the 32nd Annual Larry Mercier Memorial Ice Fishing Derby.
“It never fails,” noted Patneaude. “Before daylight there are people out here every year. I guess they're just excited.”
Before 10 a.m., there were 250-plus tickets sold for those seeking out the tagged fish and already the board was full with big catches.
Mike Kersey, Jr. was the first to register a trout measuring 15 1/2 inches and weighing slightly over a pound. “I know I got the biggest,” stated a smiling Mike, Jr. “I had my dad's help.”
The elder Mike, a registered Maine Guide laughed, “It's good to see him following my direction once in a while and getting the big one.”
As for others that had registered the potential winning fish so early in the day; Travis Laughton held on to the largest pickerel measuring 21 3/4 inches and won the $200 prize, followed in second by Nate Calden with 21 1/4 and the $150 prize and Mike Ouellette in third with his pickerel measuring 21 inches and winning the $100 prize.
Anthony Boucher took home $100 for the largest perch with his catch registering 14 3/4 inches.
And, as for the bass category; Sal Mazza took first prize of $200 with his entry measuring 17 1/8, Evan Esaucy took home the second place prize of $150 with his bass measuring out at 17 inches, and Mike Ouellette took third place of $100 with a fish measuring 16 ¾.
Annually, all funds raised through the fishing derby are donated back into the communities of Mexico, Roxbury, Byron, Andover, Rumford, Hanover and Upton as part of the Lion's Club to support the purchase of hearing and vision aids for those who cannot afford them.
More than 150 businesses donated their time, money or product to make this, and every derby in the past possible.