The 37th Annual Great Rotary Fishing Derby is On!

Fishing Derby landscapeDespite speculation earlier in the month that Lake Winnipesaukee would not be frozen enough for our usual winter activities, the two most popular events of the season are still happening! The New England Pond Hockey Classic will take place on nearby Lake Waukewan (see last week’s post here), and the surface of Meredith Bay is now freezing over enough to see ice-fishing bob houses popping up as folks gather from all over the country to participate in the much anticipated Great Rotary Fishing Derby!

fishing derby board

This year’s Great Rotary Fishing Derby will take place February 13th and 14th, with headquarters at Hesky Park near the Town Docks in Meredith. With a new format that has been successful for the past few 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 NH fresh water lake 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!

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.

The 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 $500, $200, $150, $100 and $50. There will also be drawings hundreds of dollars in cash prizes throughout the weekend for all derby ticket holders, including two Rotary Derby Ticket “Grand Cash Drawings” for $5,000—you don’t need to fish to win!

fishingderby-08-049On Saturday, February 13th, 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 12th, 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!

Carrie Reed
The Mill Falls Blogging Team

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