Catching memories at fishing derby

James Martindale, 6, of Pittsfield, Mass., lands a 10-inch bluegill.

John Coston

Catching memories at fishing derby

NORTH CANAAN — “I heard somebody caught a turtle.”

That was the mood on Sunday, May 19 at the annual fishing derby held by the Connecticut Rod and Gun Club.

Holly Hunt, who ran the event with many club volunteers who were busy cooking burgers and dogs, hauling ice and taking measurements of the day’s catch of bass, trout and bluegill.

Hunt said 65 anglers signed up for this year’s event, which she has personally run for almost 20 years at the club’s pond off Route 7 South.

Parents, grandparents and uncles and aunts all showed up with newbie anglers who ranged in age up to 15.

James Martindale, 6, of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, reeled in a 10-inch bluegill, and held his beaming smile for as long at it took Eleiana Morel to dash over to measure his prize.

Families drove from all over the Northwest Corner and beyond to enjoy a pondside morning with worms and minnows provided by Jim’s Bait & Tackle in East Canaan.

Tristan Landry, 5, of Southington, Conn., managed to keep his line untangled –mostly.John Coston

The water’s edge was lined with small-fry competitors outfitted with rods, reels, bobbers, nets and tackle boxes as families parked in folding chairs right behind them.

A significant contingent spent energy on catching frogs and running around.

Tristan Landry, 5, of Southington, received guidance from his grandmother.An even younger Benjamin Walley, 4, of North Canaan, was comfortably seated in a pint-sized lawn chair, eyes fixed on the water for any sign of movement.

Seven-year old Holden Belmonte of Milton and his sister, Sawyer, 4, cast their lines in sequence as their father watched, while holding a babe in arms.

Emmett Lozier, 11, of Bristol, looked like a pro as he surgically added weights to his line with a pair of needle-nose pliers.

“Yeah,” was his answer for any question posed about how it was going.

Harper Nivolo, 5, of North Canaan, landed a 14 1/2 inch largemouth bass with one minute to go before all lines had to be pulled from the pond under derby rules.

Everyone got a prize in the end, but six competitors who caught the biggest fish in their age group won a bicycle. All others got to choose prizes as their tickets were drawn from a bucket by Hunter.

The six who went home with bicycles were: Harper Nivolo, Finn Lyon, Ava Cole, Jaxon Romanchick, Emma Sprague and Mason Torrent.

It was a ‘catch and release’ event. So all the fish returned to the pond, after dining all morning on worms and minnows.

Dominik Romanchick, 4, of North Haven, caught four fish Saturday. As his grandfather helped him undo the hook and pose for a photo, Dominik thoughtfully inserted the minnow back into the gaping mouth of the 14 3/4 inch bass.

Dominic Romanchick, 4, of North Haven, Conn. with a 14 3/4 inch large mouth bass caught on a minnow.John Coston

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