Ice shack raffle promises better fishing

You may win an amazing ice fishing shack. And you will definitely contribute to an improvement in Maine’s fishery.

I’ve just ponied up $40 for raffle tickets, hoping to win one of the two creatively constructed ice shacks, and eager to contribute to the good work of Maine’s Fishery Improvement Network (FIN), sponsor of the raffle. FIN is a project of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, led by Pat Sirois.

“There have never been ice shacks whose purpose is more friendly to fish,” said Pat. “This is a great project to not only raise money but to raise awareness of the stream connectivity issues. This is a win for fish, snowmobilers, and fishermen.”

Two ice shacks, each valued at $2,000, were constructed by Sirois, Kevin McCarthy and John Starrett of Sappi Fine Paper, and Scott Pease of Hancock Lumber, and are collapsible and easily raised once you get to your destination, without any tools. You can watch Pat’s very entertaining video here, as he raises one of the shacks in double time.

Raffle proceeds will be used to upgrade snowmobile stream crossings to improve fish passage and habitat connectivity.

You can get your raffle tickets online here, at the FIN website,or by calling 622-9288. The winners will be drawn on December 30, in plenty of time for the upcoming ice fishing season. I don’t do much ice fishing, so I plan to tow mine to my woodlot and use it as a hunting camp and blind. In fact, this would even make a great playhouse for the kids!

Fisheries Improvement Network

The exceptional work and leadership shown by Sirois and FIN is resolving long-standing problems with improperly constructed culverts and stream crossing bridges that blocked fish from getting to their spawning grounds. You can learn more about this at

I especially like this project because the process is voluntary, allowing landowners to move at their own pace, providing them with the information and training needed to do it right, and assisting state agency staff who are too busy to do this important work.

A few years ago, as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, I worked with then-Senator David Trahan and several statewide environmental groups to enact laws and rules requiring the correct installation of culverts. In the end, we failed, primarily because it costs more money to do this right. The Maine Municipal Association was particularly strong and effective in making this argument against our efforts.

Pat Sirois and his Fisheries Improvement Network have stepped up to fill this void and solve this long-standing problem. Give them your support – and a bit of your money – and we will all be winners.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.