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Ice fishing tournament covers the Kingdom

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copyright the Chronicle March 1, 2017


by Brad Usatch


Game fish from Harvey’s Lake to Great Averill Pond are breathing a sigh of relief this week after having somehow lived through another Northeast Kingdom Ice Fishing Derby.

In its thirteenth year, the contest founded and hosted by Wright’s Sport Shop in Newport attracted fishermen from Maine to New York State for fun and camaraderie, and to test their ice fishing wiles with the hope of taking home a share of $50,000 in cash and prizes.

Unusual for any fishing tournament, the contest encompasses every major water body in the Northeast Kingdom and is open to most game fish species — salmon, rainbow trout, lake trout, brown trout, walleye, northern pike, and perch.

The derby ran from the crack of dawn on Thursday, February 23, until noon on Sunday, with a separate Saturday-only derby for children 14 and younger.

Wright’s Sport Shop owner Ron Wright said the idea for the tournament came from his daughter.

“That first year we had 76 or 77 entries, and it just went from there,” he said.

This year, Mr. Wright said, the final numbers listed over 600 adults and 168 children who had registered for the event.

By midday on Friday, Wright’s was already buzzing with activity. Fish were brought in, weighed, measured, and piled in large plastic tote bins to be cleaned for the celebratory dinner.

Tom Deslandes of Newport pulled three northerns out of the back of his truck that appeared to be at least five or six pounds each, but he said they were nothing compared to the nine-pounder he had pulled in on Thursday.

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