The 36th Annual Great Rotary Fishing Derby Coming to Meredith!

Fishing Derby landscapeNext weekend, the frozen surface of Meredith Bay will be transformed from a pond hockey tournament site into a village of ice-fishing bob houses as folks gather from all over the country to participate in one of the Lakes Region’s biggest winter events: The Great Rotary Fishing Derby. The Derby has been drawing crowds to Lake Winnipesaukee for 36 years, with many hoping to snag the heaviest eligible fish for a chance to win the grand prize.

This year’s Great Rotary Fishing Derby will take place February 7th and 8th, with headquarters at Hesky Park near the Town Docks in Meredith. With a new format that has been successful for the past two years now, the largest fish of each of the eligible species (white perch, yellow perch, cusk, lake trout, pickerel, black crappie, or rainbow trout) will be entered in the grand prize drawings, and a grand-prize winning fish can be caught in any fresh water open to the public. There is now less pressure to fish only on Lake Winnipesaukee, and less impact on the off-season salmon. Additionally, the Rotary Club will be providing all cash prizes instead of items such as a fishing boat or ATV as in years past.

The three top prizes will be awarded to the angler with a valid Derby ticket whose name is drawn on Sunday during the Grand Prize Drawing. First prize is $15,000, second prize is $5,000, and third prize is $3,000. Those who had the largest fish in each category on either Saturday or Sunday of Derby Weekend will be eligible.

fishing derby boardThe five heaviest Black Crappie, Cusk, Lake Trout, Pickerel, Rainbow Trout, Yellow Perch and White Perch will be hung on the board on both Saturday and Sunday for prizes of $250, $200, $150, $100, and $50, and the heaviest fish boarded in each category will be awarded $500 on Sunday at 3:30pm at Derby Headquarters. There will also be drawings hundreds of dollars in cash prizes throughout the weekend for all derby ticket holders—you don’t need to fish to win!

fishingderby-08-049On Saturday, February 7th, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department will once again conduct the “Let’s Go Fishing” program, which is a free hands-on clinic for kids and their parents on the basics of ice fishing.

The two-day ice fishing competition is one of the top fund-raising events in the state, enabling The Meredith Rotary Club to donate more than $1.5 million back into the community for charitable projects, area improvements, scholarships, and families in need. The Rotary Club, in consultation with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, also stocks tagged fish in several New Hampshire Lakes as part of an ongoing fisheries management plan.

After the derby, any unwanted fish are donated to The Squam Lakes Natural Science Center in Holderness, NH, where they are kept frozen and fed to the otters, raptors, and other animals who love these special “trout-cicle” treats!

Tickets for the Great Meredith Rotary Ice Fishing Derby can be purchased online at, and are also available at a wide variety of vendors throughout New Hampshire (see the list at this link). Beginning on Friday, February 6th, tickets will be available at the Rotary Derby Headquarters trailer at Hesky Park.

For more information, visit the Meredith Rotary Club website at or call 603-279-7600. You can also check the Rotary’s Facebook page here for the latest updates!

For additional information on Meredith and some of the great events happening around the Lakes Region, visit and And don’t forget to stop by the Mill Falls at the Lake website, too, at

Carrie Reed
The Mill Falls Blogging Team

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