Scott Haggerty of Presque Isle caught this monster fish in the St. John River to win the 2021 Fort Kent International Muskie Derby. Credit: Jessica Potila / St. John Valley Times

FORT KENT, Maine — A February fire that destroyed computer software for the Fort Kent International Muskie Derby has hindered online registration for the event.

A Main Street building owned by Tracey Hartt, who oversees the Muskie Derby website, burned down on Feb. 28, destroying two Fort Kent businesses owned by Hartt and his wife, Evelyn Hartt.

Information needed to maintain online registration for the popular annual fishing tournament was collateral damage in the fire. People can register for the derby, scheduled for Aug. 12-14 in the St. John Valley, only in person for now.

The Muskie Derby was established 21 years ago to draw tourists to the greater Fort Kent area. The St. John River west of Grand Falls and all of its tributaries are open to derby fishing, usually drawing approximately 300 participants from throughout New England and Canada.

The O’Brien family of Vermont caught some giant fish during the 2021 Fort Kent International Muskie Derby. Brothers Quinn and Tucker O’Brien swept all three prizes in the youth category. From left, are, David O’Brien, Tucker O’Brien, Quinn O’Brian, and Terrence O’Brien. Credit: Courtesy of David O’Brien

“Software we used to produce the site was destroyed,” Tracey Hartt said. “Worse was so was all the backup information. I think we are going to be able to recover the backup files. My backup drives have been sent out to recover those files.”

In-person registration is available at Up North Outdoors on Fort Kent’s Main Street until Aug. 6, and  also at the Fort Kent weigh station, located outside Up North, the weekend of the tournament until 11 a.m. on Saturday.

Derby President Dennis Cyr said the situation is inconvenient for many anglers who planned to register online, and he didn’t know how the limitations will affect the overall number of registrants.

“Some people coming from the south don’t come to Fort Kent, they go directly to Baker Lake or some of the remote lakes,” Cyr said. “We’re trying to get the bugs out of the system.”

Cyr said the same reasons to register for the derby apply as in years past.

“People love to fish. We’re a unique fishing derby for the biggest (fresh water) fish in Maine, being muskies. Of course we also have outstanding smallmouth bass,” Cyr said. “People love to catch those big fish and the prize money is good.”

An awards ceremony will follow the tournament at UP North Outdoors on Sunday, Aug. 14.

Scott Haggerty of Presque Isle took first place in last year’s tournament when he netted a 46 ⅜-inch muskie weighing in at 25 pounds, 6 ounces. He also caught the fourth, eighth, ninth and 13th place muskies for a total of $3,600 in prize money.