FNLC and Mill River Clean Water Fishing Derby, 2-22-2020.jpg (copy)

Anglers bring their catches to Swanton’s Julie and Shawn White for a weigh-in during the first annual Clean Water Ice Fishing Derby held last year on Missisquoi Bay.

HIGHGATE SPRINGS — With state COVID-19 guidelines in place, Mill River Brewing BBQ & Smokehouse (MRB) is ready to co-host the 2nd annual Clean Water Ice Fishing Derby to benefit the Friends of Northern Lake Champlain (FNLC).

On Saturday, MRB will hold a one-day, family-oriented, yellow perch fishing derby on Missisquoi Bay, near The Tyler Place in Highgate Springs. As with the 2020 inaugural event, this catch-and-release-style derby is part of an ongoing Clean Water Campaign and partnership between MRB and the FNLC. The derby will be educational and geared toward getting young people enthusiastic about fishing and the sport’s reliance on clean water. All net proceeds will benefit the FNLC.

MRB launched its Clean Water Campaign with the FNLC in summer 2019 through the release of Lake Dayz, a beer that benefits the FNLC. MRB donated about $6,000 to the FNLC in 2019 through portions of sales of Lake Dayz and a September Rain Barrel Auction that raised $3,400 in one hour. To date, MRB has donated about $7,000 to the FNLC.

Friends of Northern Lake Champlain is a 501©3 nonprofit organization that acts to clean the waters of northern Lake Champlain and its watershed by working collaboratively with citizens, businesses, farmers, and government to reduce land-use pollution. The group’s focus is to catalyze the actions and accountability needed to reduce land-use pollution and securing the essential local, state, and federal funding necessary for successful implementation.

Participants in this event must follow the state’s guidelines for COVID-19, which are listed on the state’s website. Guidelines will be posted at the derby as well. The 2021 Clean Water Ice Fishing Derby is for Vermont anglers only, but organizers hope they can reopen it to everyone in 2022.

On-site registration is from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. at 624 Shipyard Road, Highgate Springs. Fishing is from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Registration is $25 per individual. Children under age 10 fish for free. Online registration is available at the “Order Online” section of the MRB website (millriverbrewing.com) during business hours only: Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 12 to 7 p.m.

Online registrants can retrieve their tickets at the derby site on the morning of the event. Tickets are also available for purchase in advance at: MRB, Martin’s Store (Highgate Springs), The Bay Store (St. Albans Bay), and North Country Bait & Tackle (Swanton).

Registration includes eligibility for prizes — trophies, cash and other surprises — as well as a grab-n-go meal catered by MRB. Additionally, MRB beer will be on sale at Martin’s Store throughout the day.

MRB is about a mile from St. Albans Bay. With Lake Champlain so close, MRB uses several tactics to conserve water. For example, MRB reuses much of its water through its can-rinsing system, and it reuses treated water through its Clean-In-Place (CIP) tank system. MRB also captures rain water from gutters and reuses it on the hop rows and vegetable gardens that are at the restaurant.

The 2021 derby sponsors are: Small Dog Builders, Martin’s Store, The Tyler Place, Hometown Beverage & Redemption, The Eloquent Page, The Traveled Cup, St. Albans Messenger, Swanton Arts Council, Pelkey’s Archery, PI Charbonneau Construction, Jolley Stores, Eastern Dragon, Captain Veggie Man, The Bay Store, Pie in the Sky, Mother Hubbard’s, T.S. Peck Insurance, Stellar Services LLC, Eaton’s Fine Jewelry, Ben & Jerry’s, Island Bargain Barn, Vermont Precision Tools, Wind River Environmental, and the Franklin Northwest Solid Waste District.

MRB opened in July 2017 with less than a handful of in-house brews on tap. Today, MRB is distributed throughout Vermont through Calmont Beverage and Fitzgerald Distribution. MRB is also a full-service restaurant — with a tap room — that features local food.

In October 2020, MRB earned a gold medal for its Fulling Mill IPA, a silver medal for its Crawl It Off and an individual award for Vermont Brewery of the Year at the 9th Annual New York International Beer Competition (NYIBC). Fulling Mill IPA and Crawl It Off were registered in the American-Style Cream Ale or Lager $11-$15 category.

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