The Fort Kent International Muskie Derby (the Derby) is run as derby. The term “derby” means that all fish presented for weigh-in must have been killed on the water at the time of landing them or the fish needs to be released alive at once according to State Law.
Maine law prohibits the transportation of live fish. This law was enacted to reduce the effects of illegal stocking carried out by unauthorized individuals and to make enforcement and prosecution of illegal fish introductions or attempts at illegal introduction easier for the Maine Warden Service.*
The St John River and all tributaries of the river are open to fishing during the derby. This includes over 280 miles of river on the St John up to Grand Falls. Its Branches and Tributaries will include the Big Black River, St Francis River, Little Black River, Allagash River to Allagash Falls and Depot Stream. Available water to fish also includes six lakes or ponds (in Maine) contained on these waters that are known to hold muskie.
Much of the river is shallow and only suitable for canoe use. The river runs through a commercial forest that can best be described as “Wild”. Access points are limited and most are unimproved hand-carry landings.
The Derby enforces a self-imposed Thirty-six (38) inch minimum. The Derby encourages releasing of all undersized fish. The Derby also encourages anglers when possible to call Derby Headquarters to find out the lengths of the top position fish so that fish that will not win a prize be released. Derby Headquarters is S.W. Collins Outdoors and Building Supply and can be reached at (207) 834-3102, 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. during the derby.
Helpful Hints for Releasing Muskie
- Use of barbless hooks is recommended.
- Muskie to be released should be out of the water for a minimum amount of time.
- If a muskie is hooked on multiple treble hooks it is best to cut the hooks in a manner that will not hinder the muskie from opening its mouth.
- Carry a pair of long needle nose pliers as well as a set of quality wire cutters capable of cutting stainless steel hooks.
- Refrain from using a net+ on any muskie that is not going to be kept. The mesh in standard nets is known to cut the tail fin. This will cause an open wound on the fish and could result in the fish getting an infection and eventually dieing from a fungus infection. Instead use a “Boga Grip” type tool or gill the fish taking care not to touch the actual gills.
- Handle the fish with wet hands or wet gloves to reduce slime covering loss on the fish. Loss of slime coat can result in infections to the fish.
- To release a muskie; Grasp the fish by the tail when in the water. Turn fish rightside-up. Move the fish back and forth length wise to get water going through its gills again. The fish will eventually thrash once and normally escape from your grasp. If the fish comes back to surface make every attempt to repeat the process. This process could take several minutes, be patient!
History of the Muskies in the St. John
The St. John River and its tributaries were known throughout the country as a quality native brook trout fishery. Fish up to five pounds have been recorded from its waters. In 1980 the Quebec Government stocked muskie in Lac Frontier (Boundary Lake) located in the Town of Lac Frontier, Quebec. This is the headwaters of the Northwest Branch of the St. John. No fish barrier was installed and Maine Government agencies were not notified of this act until it was too late.
Within a relatively short period of time muskie were found to be in Baker Lake which is on the Southwest Branch of the St. John. Muskie were being reported all along the river as well. The brook trout fishery that once thrived took a serious turn for the worse. The deadwaters that once provided cool water during the summer Armin Van Buuren Who'S Afraid Of 138 ! legal mp3 download months for brook trout became feeding holes for the muskie throughout the river. Today very few brook trout exist in the main stem of the St. John and the deeper tributaries. Today, muskie can be found along the entire length of the St John Watershed.
Local anglers eventually embraced muskie fishing as an alternative to their missing brook trout fishery.
The Derby was started in 2003 to provide a platform showcase the new fishery and continues today. It has brought attention to the new fishery and helped bring attention to national TV shows such as ESPN 2’s “Beat Charlie Moore”. This show and other future shows will help show case the fishery to not only potential derby contestants but for a more secure and expanded tourist based fishery.
The St John Watershed is a unique muskie habitat. Several factors make it acceptable and necessary to remove some fish from the ecosystem for the fishery to remain healthy.
- Because of the size of the watershed and limited access, sections of the river see little to no fishing pressure.
- Available feed in the river system is limited and has dwindled over the years.
- Because very few local anglers keep fish and most visitors to the region practice Catch and Release.
- The muskie has no predators of significance in the St. John.
Without removal of some fish from the river we will eventually have a stunted fishery.
- The Fort Kent International Derby Board of Directors supports the efforts of the Maine Warden Service and Fisheries Biologists of the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Department and condemns any unauthorized illegal introduction of non-native fish.
- No Live fish will be accepted at Derby Central.
- Persons bringing in live fish will be reported to the Maine Warden Service.