A beautiful Spring day and an increasingly-popular annual event sponsored by the Presque Isle Elks attracted hundreds of youth and supervising adults to Mantle Lake Park in Presque Isle on Saturday, May 31, 2014, for the “Hooked on Fishing, Not Drugs” youth fishing derby.

According to Elks event chair, Curtis Lewin, 275 children over the age of 3 and under 16 registered to participate in the fishing derby that began at 8:00 a.m. and ended at noon.  During that time, twenty-eight trout were successfully taken from the waters of Mantle Lake.  Jeremiah McLaughlin, four years old of Caribou, landed the first fish, which was eleven inches long.  At the end of the fishing derby, Ava McNeal-Saed, age 3 of Mars Hill, had the longest fish at thirteen inches.  Benjamin Ryan of Presque Isle, who is 11 years old, had caught the most fish with four.

Brent Senal, a six year-old fisherman from Fort Fairfield, happily shows off a trout caught during the Presque Isle Elks’ “Hooked on Fishing, Not Drugs” youth fishing derby on Saturday, May 31, 2014, at Mantle Lake in Presque Isle.

OMM Outfitters of Eagle Lake, provided a new rod and reel from Cabela’s to children who arrived at Mantle Lake for the fishing derby without a fishing pole.

Lifetime Fisherman at age 12. At the Presque Isle Elks “Hooked On Fishing, Not Drugs” youth fishing derby on Saturday, May 31, 2014, Elks Exalted Ruler Alan Harding, with Maine Elks Association President Thomas Callahan looking on, presented a lifetime fishing license to Jacob Paul, 12 years old of Caribou.

The Presque Isle Elks awarded a prize of an article for an outdoor activity to every child who participated in the fishing derby.  Special prizes were also awarded.  Jacob Paul, who is 12 years old and lives in Caribou, received a lifetime fishing license that had been donated by the Presque Isle Fish and Game Club.  Aaron Tucci, 11 of Presque Isle and Brielle Taveras, age 4 from Washburn, each took home a bicycle.

In addition to the new fishing rods and reels and other outdoor activity prizes given away, the Elks served over 800 hotdogs, 500 bags of chips, and twenty gallons of ice cream to those attending the annual fishing derby.

In assessing the success of the event, Presque Isle Elks Exalted Ruler Alan Harding said, “Whenever you host an event where hundreds of children are engaged in a safe, outdoor activity with adult supervisors and all have smiles on their faces, it is a tremendous success.  When children are returning this year with the fishing rod they were given the previous year and upon leaving are saying ‘See you next year’, then the “Hook on Fishing, Not Drugs” fishing derby has established itself as an annual community tradition.”

“The Presque Isle Elks look forward to hosting even more young people next year, as area young people have demonstrated their desire to be “Hooked on Fishing, Not Drugs”, Harding concluded.