Tyler Knowles, 9, of Brewer tries to get a better look at his bait while ice fishing at Levasseur Pond in Brewer on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017. Knowles was participating in the Penobscot County Conservation Association's family ice fishing day. Credit: John Holyoke

If you’ve been looking for an excuse to head out for some fishing on the “hardwater,” this is your weekend, as a number of events are on tap, and you don’t even need a fishing license.

Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 16 and 17, are Maine’s free fishing days for the winter. The rules: So long as you haven’t had your license suspended or revoked, you’re allowed to fish for free on all waters that are open to fishing.

Because of that and because this weekend kicks off a school vacation week, one of the busiest weekends of the winter is upon us, with derbies and other events scheduled around the state.

If you’re looking to get out for some ice fishing fun, here’s a partial list of your options.

— In Albion, the seventh annual Albion Lions Club Fishing Derby will be held on Saturday, with weigh-in staged at Marden Shore on Lovejoy Pond. The derby runs from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.

— In Brewer, the Penobscot County Conservation Association will hold its popular youth ice fishing day from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Sunday at its clubhouse and pond on North Main Street in Brewer. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Equipment and bait will be provided, and activities will be monitored by experienced adults.

— In Bucksport, the Bucks Mills Rod and Gun Club will hold its annual fishing derby Sunday at Silver Lake. Fishing will run from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m., and the weigh-in will be held in the boat landing parking lot on Silver Lake Road.

— In Milo, the 57th annual Schoodic Lake Ice Fishing Derby will be held on Saturday and Sunday. The derby benefits Milo Fire Department charities and fishing is allowed on Schoodic, Ebeemee, Seboeis and Boyd lakes. Weigh-in sites are Knight’s Landing, Lakeview Village and Milo Fire Station.

— In Orland, Slim’s Fishing Derby will be held Saturday and Sunday on all legal waters of Hancock County. Weigh-in will take place at the Toddy Pond boat ramp, 117 Acadia Highway.

In Sullivan, Maine Mountain View Youth Sports will hold its sixth Winter Fest Ice Fishing Derby on Flanders Pond on Saturday.

— In Wilton, the Wilton Fish & Game Association’s fifth annual Michael J. Rowe Memorial Ice Fishing Derby will be held from 6 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday on Wilson Lake. Registration is at the lake’s boat launch.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife does caution anglers to stay safe when heading out on frozen lakes, ponds, streams and rivers. Among the precautions suggested: Check ice early and often, and avoid outlets, inlets, bridges and culverts, where ice conditions can be particularly dangerous.

Avatar photo

John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. He spent 28 years working for the BDN, including 19 years as the paper's outdoors columnist or outdoors editor. While...