11-year-old wins his 6th derby trophy with giant togue
ST. AGATHA, Maine – An 11-year-old boy from Eagle Lake, who is no stranger to Long Lake Ice Fishing Derby winners, scooped his sixth trophy this weekend.
Eagle Lake’s Drew Belanger took first place in the under-13 category of the annual fishing contest and fundraiser. The 26-inch fish weighed 6 pounds, 3.5 ounces, beating the closest competition by about 2 pounds.
The youngster caught two togues and a salmon on Sunday while fishing at Eagle Lake with his father, Fort Kent Police Officer Mark Belanger.
The duo drew no flags on Saturday, resulting in slow movement up the derby leaderboard for all categories.
“Drew’s perseverance paid off on Sunday. He got up early, battled the freezing temperatures and managed to pull in his winning fish,” said his mother, Stacy Belanger. “On the lake he jumped around and yelled, ‘It’s a big one, papa.’
In 2021, Drew Belanger won his division’s Togue category, taking home all three cash prizes.
The Belangers were among more than 1,600 anglers registered for this year’s Long Lake Ice Fishing Derby.
Derby Chairman Paul Bernier said that since its inception 18 years ago, the Derby has encouraged young anglers to take part by offering incentives such as cash prizes.
“When you get the kids, you get the parents; You’re getting the whole family out of there. That’s what we encourage, a family atmosphere,” said Bernier. “We have a lot of people in their early 20s and mid-20s who started fishing in the Derby when they were 5 or 6 years old when the Derby started.”
Despite the tournament’s name, Long Lake is just one of 10 northern Maine waterways where anglers can catch their fish. Other Derby waters include St. Froid Lake, Eagle Lake, Beau Lake, Carr Pond, Cross Lake, Square Lake, Glazier Lake, Portage Lake and the St. John River.
Anglers can fish for togue, salmon, musk, brown trout, cusk and perch.
Other first place winners in the youth division were Aiden Pelletier with a 5 pound, 9.6 ounce salmon that registered 24 and 1/4 inches and Mikayl Michaud who caught a 2 pound, 3 ounce brown trout that measured 18 inches.
The Cusk category was open to all ages. Winners were, first place, Mike Thibodeau, 9 pounds, 13.4 ounces, 30 1/4 inches; second place, Mike Thibodeau, 9 pounds, 7.9 ounces, 29 3/4 inches; and third place, Spencer Neilander, 9 pounds, 6.4 ounces, 32 inches.
The following are winners in the 14 and over category.
Salmon: first place, Tim Morgan, 5 pounds, 8.3 ounces, 26 inches; second place, Eric Smith, 5 pounds, 4.9 ounces, 27 1/2 inches; and third place, Steve Rouse, 5 pounds, 3.1 ounces, 24 1/4 inches.
Togue: first place, John Keller, 14 pounds, 6.6 ounces, 34 1/2 inches; second place, Allan Pottle, 14 pounds, 3.4 ounces, 34 3/4 inches; and third place, Nicholas Pelletier, 12 pounds, 15 ounces, 33 1/2 inches.
Brown Trout: first place, Dan Levesque, 2 pounds, 11.6 ounces, 22 inches; second place, Shane Chamberland, 2 pounds, 6.8 ounces, 18 1/2 inches; and third place, Matthew Derosier, 2 pounds, 1.8 ounces, 17 3/4 inches.
Muskie: first place, Andrew Cyr, 19 pounds, 12 ounces, 40 inches; second place, Colby Brown, 14 pounds, 4 ounces, 37 1/2 inches; and third place, Andrew Cyr, 13 pounds, 4 ounces, 36 inches.
Most Bass: First Place, Ben Robinson, 510; second place, Mathew Foulke, 142; and third place, Ben Carlon 116.
Biggest Bass: First Place, Fred Libby, 1 lb, 4.1 oz, 14 1/4 in; second place, Tyler Jones, 1 pound, 2.5 ounces, 14 inches; and third place, Mathew Foulke, 1 pound, 1 ounce, 14 inches.
Proceeds from the derby benefit the Edgar J. Paradis Cancer Fund, which provides financial assistance to family members and loved ones accompanying St. John Valley cancer patients who are required to travel out of the area for treatment. The Derby has donated more than $120,000 since its inception.
“It directly supports the people of the Valley; it is beneficial for them. We know many people who have benefited from these funds, either directly or indirectly through their families,” Bernier said.
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