China celebrates the 5th Annual China Lake Ice Fishing Derby

Participants of the China Lake Ice Fishing Derby set up tents and small encampments scattered throughout China Lake. Last year’s derby was held on February 19, 2023. (photo by Cindy Senkbeil, of China)

by Sandra Isaac

The China Four Seasons Club and the China Village Fire Department are co-hosting the 5th Annual China Lake Ice Fishing Derby to be held on Sunday, February 18, during Maine’s Free Fishing Weekend.

“We are excited to be celebrating our fifth year in the partnership with the China Village Volunteer Fire Department”, said China Four Seasons Club President Tom Rumpf. “These last few years have been amazing and a great way to see the community come out and celebrate Winter on China Lake. This is also Maine’s free fishing weekend which is a nice bonus. We will be following all State of Maine ice fishing laws and rules.”

Many other events will be happening around town leading up to Derby Day. On Friday there will be an “Owl Prowl” starting at 6:30 p.m., at Thurston Park, and a $15 lasagna dinner, at the China Masonic Lodge. Saturday events include an $8 pancake breakfast at the Dirigo Masonic Lodge and, starting at 10 a.m., will be a Cornhole Tournament at the China Primary School sponsored by Central Maine Power Sports, snowshoeing at the China Community Forest, and sledding at Thurston Park. Finishing off Saturday night will be an Ice-Skating Event at the China Town Rink, hosted by the China Lake Association.

(photo by Cindy Senkbeil, of China)

Rumpf continued, “Sunday is still dedicated to the ice fishing derby with fishing limited to China Lake. The ice fishing derby will finish with fireworks display after the derby’s award ceremony.” All the weekend’s activities will be open to the public, however reservations are requested for the lasagna dinner at the Mason’s Lodge, as well as for the Cornhole Tournament.

“We encourage people to check out our website and look at the Ice Derby’s Facebook page for up­dates. The other weekend events have either a dedicated page on Face­book or posts on the Fishing Derby Face­book page,” said Rumpf.

The first 100 children to stop in at the China Village Fire Station will receive special takeaway ice fishing bait buckets filled with some great items courtesy of Bar Harbor Bank & Trust, Jack Traps of Maine, Central Maine Powersports, New England Sled Talk, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and The Maine Audubon Society. The buckets will be available starting at 5 a.m. on the day of the derby. In addition, Central Church will be set up on the ice across from the fire station on Causeway Road to work with children who are new to fishing and Traps for Kids of Maine will be set up next to them, giving away free traps to children who need them, while supplies last.

Young anglers show off their catch during the China Lake Ice Fishing Derby 2023. This year’s derby will be held on February 18, 2024. (photo by Cindy Senkbeil, of China)

“We will also be giving away over 40 door prizes including an Orca cooler, gas grill and chair set from Lakeview Lumber, a StrikeMaster electric ice auger, courtesy of Jack Traps of Maine, and Brookfield Renewable Energy, 100 gallons of heating fuel from Augusta Fuel Company, an Roc Inflatable Stan-Up paddleboard and accessories from Hannaford Supermarket, $500 cash from Vacationland Rentals, plus many more prizes and gift certificates, all donated by great local businesses,” said Rumpf.

(photo by Cindy Senkbeil, of China)

Fishing derby weigh-in time will be at 4 p.m., on Sunday, and all entries must be in line at the fire station building [on Causeway Road] by 4 p.m., to qualify for a prize. Prizes will be awarded in the following fish categories: largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, brown trout, brook trout, and pickerel. The children’s category will be perch and kids will be awarded prizes for the top five winners with the most perch caught. The lunker of the day – the largest fish overall – will be the derby’s top prize. This year the lunker prize will be its own category and not combined with another fish category prize.

Tickets for the derby are available for $5 a piece or 3 for $10 at many local stores including China Variety & Redemption, Harvest Time Bait, Tobey’s and Lakeview Lumber. You can also purchase tickets from members of the China Four Seasons Club and the China Village Fire Department.

The China Four Seasons Club maintains a dedicated Facebook page and a website to share information on door prizes, sponsors, and ticket information. Please visit or

(photo by Cindy Senkbeil, of China)


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