This weekend will see an event incomparable to any other fisheries contest in the long storied fishing history of the Rangeley area. The Rangeley Region Guides and Sportsmen’s Association will hold the Mooselookmeguntic Landlocked Salmon Derby on Saturday and Sunday June 19 and 20.
MDIFW fisheries biologists have determined there is currently an overabundance of wild landlocked salmon in Mooselookmeguntic Lake, resulting in poor salmon growth and condition. To improve the health of the fishery on the Lake, MDIFW has implemented new regulations for the taking of landlocked salmon as part of their fisheries management plan. The new regulations, beginning January 1, 2021, are no size or bag limit on salmon under 16 inches in length, and a one fish bag limit on salmon greater than 16 inches. The liberalized salmon regulations on Mooselookmeguntic Lake will promote salmon growth through allowing greater harvest opportunity and increased angler use. An increased harvest of small salmon will reduce the overall population, which will increase the forage available to the remaining salmon.
The salmon derby was greeted with such enthusiasm that the Derby Committee had to stop all new entries as of May 1. There are 130 boats presently entered each with multiple fishermen so one will see many fishermen around that weekend all competing for thousands of dollars in prize money. The boat catching the most landlocked salmon under 16 inches will share in $3,500 in cash prizes. In addition thousands of dollars of raffle prizes will be awarded including gift certificates from area businesses, fishing lures, and other items. A special raffle will be held for three items, a season pass to Saddleback, an ice fishing shack and equipment from Cote’s, and a two night stay at BMC.
The Rangeley Community has been very supportive of the RRG&SA and the Derby. The Derby platinum sponsors are Hight Family of Dealerships and the Skowhegan Savings Bank with many other business sponsors whose banners can be seen displayed in Oquossoc and Rangeley. All proceeds from the Derby will go to RRG&SA youth programs.
Boats will be bringing their salmon into the “count-in” on Saturday from late morning to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 2 p.m. The counting stations will be set up alongside the tennis courts in Oquossoc. This will offer some great opportunities for viewing these silver sportfish. A great place for kids to watch the counting will be inside the tennis courts looking through the fence. If you want some salmon for your consumption, fish will be available after about noon each day at the counting stations.. No fish will be wasted, The RRG&SA has arranged to donate unwanted fish to organizations that can use them.
The Awards Ceremony will be held at Rivers Edge in Oquossoc on Sunday at 3 p.m. after the final counting. This should be very interesting as the final fish counts are posted and the winning anglers, who have been fishing for two days from sunup, realize they did it. How many fish will it take to win, 30 to 40 or maybe over 60 and possibly over 100 for the two days. Much will depend on how the fish are biting and the weather. Come over on Sunday and view the celebration.