All roads lead to the premier ice fishing derby in Maine…..The Long Lake Ice Fishing Derby…..an interesting combination of seven water bodies covering most of northern Aroostook County and giving fisherman some great choices and of course local bragging rights. The fisheries are superb with many trophy fish caught in and around these parts including land locked Salmon and some big, ugly Muskie…..
Even if you don’t fish it is just darn fun to be around. Talking, laughing, a little sustenance and libation and a GREAT closing on Sunday where $12500 in prizes are divied up …….. if you need more information log onto www.stagatha.com/derby.
Looking around The County at snow conditions we really dodged a bullet with rain. Fortunately we had lots of snow early and projects got out and groomed and had trails in great shape prior to the rain events. The first one didn’t really cause much damage because the snow was so dry it absorbed most of the moisture but last week took its toll but miraculously I checked across The County by car and sled and the base held, albeit a bit icy in the southern and central regions but certainly rideable…..you just have to slow down and use a little common sense. Darn it always seems the trail is great just before that little washout that can shake you to your core. With over 2500 miles of trails in The County it is impossible to mark every little rill or water hole or ice patch…….you take a risk when you snowmobile just like you do when you get in a car……so be smart and expect to find a few hiccups…….but for the most part you are going to find some great conditions….so here goes:
ITS 85 Looking at Shin Pond north to Ox Bow the base is in good shape but you will have to watch for ice. That will the same moving north to Ashland. Just north of Ashland heading towards Portage they need more snow before they can groom the reroute but sleds can pass no problem. Moving north from Portage the trails are exceptional especially around Eagle Lake.
ITS 83 Still have a problem with this route in the Sherman /Oakfield area. Now in Sherman by North St. crossing there is about 2 feet of water so the trail is temporarily closed there. Beyond that it is still closed between Linneus and Oakfield until further notice along with Trail 61 out of Oakfield. Moving north you will find ice and some washes until you get north of Caribou but the trail is easily rideable just use caution until we get a few more inches of snow. North of Caribou the trail is in good shape through to Madawaska. Please watch out just outside of Madawaska for active logging.
ITS 81 The trail is not groomed west of Squa Pan due to a groomer breakdown and a problematic reroute but it is groomed moving east from Squa Pan around the 105 intersection towards Mars Hill and you will find ice on the base all the way towards Hamlin where it begins to have a bit more snow cover then its good all the way in to Madawaska.
ITS 92 Everyone has groomed this week and this trail has a good base. Just a reminder that 92A out of St Francis to Carter Brook is closed until the end of January or mid February due to logging. Also if you are in the Long Lake Fishing Derby, Allagash is grooming a trail to Glazier Lake and that does connect off ITS 92 even though it doesn’t show up on the Northern Maine map.
ITS 90 On the Portage end the trail is in great shape through to the Rt 88 intersection then heading east you will find ice on the base all the way to the ITS 81 intersection on the Ft Fairfield end. Caution is advised but the trail is rideable east.
ITS 88 Ashland and the Aroostook River folks will be out by the weekend. Keep in mind there will be some ice and like on other trails areas where there may be a slight washout so use caution.
ITS 86 Houlton and Ox Bow have been out but the cover is a bit lean but overall in pretty good shape . Shin Pond has groomed their section of 71D and Ox Bow was hoping to get out on their section to Grand Lake Seboeis by the weekend.
ITS 105 Is open to the 81 intersection but has limited grooming on the Squa Pan end.
ITS 120 Great ride, good snow cover, no problem areas but use caution.
Rt 100 From ITS 81 in Caswell was open but has limited markings head toward the Rt 89 intersection.
Rt 89 Now open between ITS 83/90 in Caribou north to the Rt 100 intersection only. It is NOT open to the 94 intersection.
Caution should be used on the river crossing. 89 heading east to Limestone is a bit boney and icy….passable but needs more snow.
Rt 94 Is closed until further notice
Rt 79 to Long Lake off ITS 105 has been groomed. The lake is marked and has anywhere from 15-25 inches of ice. Check locally before you venture off too far…….Grand Isle has groomed 98B toward the Country Club.
Daigle and Soldier Pond both have been out and the good news is Rt 73B between Ft Kent and the 83B intersection has been rerouted so 73B and 73C are open.
On The Social Side
Meduxneakeag Ramblers Breakfast Saturdays 6-9 a.m. at the clubhouse
Washburn Trailrunners Breakfast /Lunch Saturdays 7 a.m.-3p.m. Sunday 7 a.m.-noon at the clubhouse
Presque Isle Snowmobile Club Stew Nights Fridays 5-7 p.m. at the clubhouse
St Francis Sno Angels Saturday Meals …homecooked meals….stop by off ITS 92
January 25 & 26 Long Lake Fishing Derby…..7 lakes and $12500 in prizes !!!
January 26 Pleasant Ridge Riders Breakfast at Caswell Clubhouse 7-11 a.m.
Limestone Club breakfast at the clubhouse 7-10 a.m.
February 8-9 Caribou Downtown Ski Festival
February 8 10th Annual Andy Santarre Sno-Run call 207-498-6431 for more info
February 8 Fort Kent SnoRiders Steak/Chicken Supper 4-8 p.m. Lonesome Pine Ski Lodge off ITS 85 Steak $18/ Chicken $15/ Kids 10 and under $10
February 9 Grand Isle Club Breakfast at the Grand Isle Community Center 7-11 a.m.
February 14-16 Moosestompers Weekend in Houlton with outdoor activities for the whole family. There will be a bonfire on Friday night and a snowmobile parade in the park that same night.
February 15 Caribou Snowmobile Club Hot Dog Roast ITS 105 Stockholm starting 10 a.m.
February 15 USCC Cross Country Racing Series assessable off ITS 85 between Ft Kent & Frenchville Racing starts at 9:30 a.m. and will run through late afternoon.
February 15 Portage Lakers Pie Auction 7 p.m. at Deans
February 28-March 7 Youth/Junior World Championship Biathalon Nordic Heritage Ctr., Presque Isle