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February 06. 2013 9:10PM

Nor'easter threat won't delay ice fishing derby

MEREDITH - Despite warnings of thin ice on some parts of Lake Winnipesaukee and the forecast of a Nor'easter Friday and Saturday, the 2013 Great Meredith Rotary Ice Fishing Derby will go on without delay.

Late Wednesday afternoon, state Fish and Game officials issued a warning about unsafe ice on the big lake. The derby, which accepts fish caught on any water body in the state on Friday and Saturday, should be approached with caution, they said.

"A recent aerial survey of Lake Winnipesaukee by the N.H. Civil Air Patrol revealed treacherous ice conditions on some parts of the big lake, including an area of open water near Welch Island," said Fish and Game Lt. James Goss.

"Caution is in order for those going out onto the ice, especially on the large lakes. Don't let the cold temperatures fool you - some areas that have traditionally been safe for ice anglers . are not safe this year. We are urging people to check the ice thickness for yourself before you go out onto any frozen water body."

Derby Chairman Jim Nagle said the warning is wise, but said the ice for most water bodies, and on Winnipesaukee, is mostly safe.

"Overall, the bays are where most of the fishing takes place, and the bay ice is beautiful this year," Nagle said. "In fact, the overwhelming majority of the ice in the state is safe."

Nagle said the area of the ice that is unsafe now is often unsafe, as it is near "The Broads" section, which often has open water.

Derby organizers expect more than 5,000 anglers to participate in this year's event, which will offer thousands of dollars in cash prizes, a change from past years, when recreational vehicles and other items were the top prizes.

Also, this year's top prizes will be drawn in a lottery system.

This year, the winners in each fish category - lake trout, rainbow trout, white perch, yellow perch, cusk, pickerel and black crappie - will have their names entered in a drawing, with the top winner awarded $15,000, $5,000 for second place, and $3,000 for third place.

There will also be $100 cash drawings every 15 minutes from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday for anyone who attends. At the end of day on Saturday and Sunday, $5,000 will be won by one attendee with the winning drawing ticket.

Fish can be caught in any water body and brought to derby headquarters on Meredith Bay, Nagle said.



dseufert@newstote.com

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