In the beginning, 1955, Squam Bay Community Club members Joan Lovgren and Ralph Keller decided they wanted to hold a Fishing Derby.
The rules? They were simple – the biggest fish wins and the fishing must be done at Adams Lake. The derby welcomed all ages to participate.
In its first year, the derby only had 10 participants. The winner, that year, was Mac Allen who won with a fish that weighed 11 pounds and 7 ounces.
Over the years, the derby has grown. It began with only 10 participants to more than 200 hundred participating in the 2019 derby. For the last several years, there have been over 200 people taking part each year.
While that’s how many people register, the actual number of fishers is usually somewhere between 25 and 40 people. The rest of them, generally, support the event and take part in the fun activities throughout the derby.
In 1958, Blanch Krohnin was the first woman to win the derby. She took home first place with a fish that weighed 14 pounds and nine ounces.
Later in 1976, Charlie Keller won with a fish that weighed 16 pounds and 15 ounces – which was one of the largest fish that has ever been reeled in at the derby. That record still stands today.
A couple years later, the club decided to create a perpetual trophy for the winner with the biggest fish. The first name inscribed on it was Larry Lovgren, who won the derby in 1978. He reeled in a fish that weighed 14 pounds and five ounces.
In 1979, the club added a second perpetual trophy, this one was for the winner with the biggest rainbow trout. The first winner to have their name inscribed onto that trophy was L. Krause, however, a weight for that fish was never recorded.
In 1984, the fishing derby decided to add a third trophy. This trophy was named after Ralph Keller, calling it the Ralph Keller Memorial trophy. This trophy was for the second largest fish. The first name to be inscribed onto that trophy was, T. Obayashi, who reeled in a fish that weight 15 pounds and six ounces.
In 2008, there was another woman who took home the winning title. Her name was Kathy Van Sickle and she won with a fish that weighed 13 pounds and six ounces.
In 2015, 10-year-old Coldy Heimann won. He is the youngest participant to have ever won a trophy. He reeled in a fish that weighed 14 pounds and 15 ounces.
A third woman won in 2016. Kate Williams took home the trophy after reeling in a fish that weight 13 pounds and 10 ounces.
The fishing derby is a long-running tradition in the valley since the 50s. It’s hard to tell if Joan Lovgren and Ralph Keller, who laid the groundwork for the derby, saw it becoming such a successful event. For more than six decades, the Squam Bay Fishing Derby has been providing people in the valley with a family tradition to look forward to each and every year.