KVS Hosts Kids Fishing Derby
Inside the Outdoors May 08, 2009

“The kids got ‘em” exclaimed Latrobe resident Leo Henry Sr. upon seeing a fellow club member following the 2009 Annual Kingston Veterans Sportsman Club’s Kid’s Fishing Derby held recently at the Club’s pond. And that they did, hook, line and sinker!

What Henry was referring to was some of  the $2,000 worth of brook, palomino and rainbow trout measuring 11 ½ to 25 inches in length caught between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Sunday, April 26, during a very hot morning and afternoon.

It was estimated that 300-400 members, relatives, their children and grandchildren turned out for the tournament which was a huge success.

One little tot, Alexis Esher, 5, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Mark Esher, is scooped up annually from Harrisburg (York) just to take part in the competition. She has been coming to the derby for the last three years. The granddaughter of Latrobe residents Walt and Janet Poole, the youngster accomplished what she came for, her limit of nice-size trout. Rules stated that the youth were all allowed to keep four fish each, and Alexis achieved that goal. Pulling her stringer out of the water, she held it up showing me her catch, gleaming from ear to ear.

According to Poole, game committee president, last year 90 kids entered, catching 276 trout from 11 ½ to 18 inches. This year, 99 kids registered their catches with 212 fish caught, but he believed the numbers were much higher as a number of families left early after getting their limits without registering. It is very possible the hot day motivated families to depart early as many parents were obviously getting sunburned. But the strong sun’s rays did not stop others from catching fish. At a glance, one could see trout being pulled in around the perimeter of the two-acre pond, some of them hefty in size.

The youngsters were broken into three age groups – 1-6, 7-10 and 11-15. Prizes were given to all kids who took part. But the winners of each group who caught the biggest fish were awarded a rod and reel combination. First place winners included (1-6) Colton McCallen, son of Mr. and Mrs. Paul McCallen of Loyalhanna, 15 ¾ inch trout; (7-10) Isaac Poole, 10, son of Mr. and Kevin Poole of Latrobe, a 17-incher; and (11-15) Amanda Shawley, daughter of Mrs. and Mrs. Dale Shawley of Waterford, also a 17-incher.

The first trout of the day was reeled in by Olexei Nuttall, 6, son of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Nuttall of Derry Township. It took only 15 minutes for 13 year-old Nathan Bates, son of Mr. and Mrs. Mark Bates of Derry to string up four trout.

One young angler, Abby Poole, 9, received an early birthday gift by hooking a 16 ¾ inch rainbow trout. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Kevin Poole of Latrobe. For those who are curious, the fish was caught on green power bait.

No artificial lures were permitted in the tournament. Those baits that seemed to work additionally well were yellow power bait, red or small worms, waxworms and meal worms. From all indications, many of the kids used minnows that were a sure ticket.

Milling among the participants, I asked a good many kids what they thought of this contest. Somewhere in the crowd came a little voice, “Where are the frogs?” I received a lot of one-word answers such as “good,” or “fun.” Jesse Stewart, 15, son of Mr. and Mrs. Tim Stewart of Ligonier, who has been participating in the derby for eight years, remarked, “Pretty fun.” Johnny Graziano, 11, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Graziano of Latrobe, hit the nail on the head, I believe, when he blurted out, “It’s cool!” Mike Petrof 8, son of Mr. and Mrs. Mike Petrof, Ligonier, attending for the first time, stated with a big smile, “It’s the best place I ever fished!”

Since I do a good bit of fishing and eat what I catch, I’m always interested to hear what recipes people use to cook their catch. Many told me they just filet the trout and pan fry them. Dennis Beard of Ligonier told me he barbeques his trout by placing a pad of butter in the cavity where the fish was cleaned and grilling it on either side. Deep frying is popular. This is done by dipping filets into buttermilk and then rolling them in either breading or Ritz crackers, I was told.

Sponsoring this year’s event were the following participants: Miller Run Conservation Society, Kingston Game & Fish Co., Laurel Hill Trout Farm which donated five trout equaling 23 pounds, Shop n’ Save, Army & Navy Store, Walmart, Grumpy Jim’s Bait and Tackle, KVS Archery, KVS Activity Committee, Pee Vee, Michelle and Jesse Shawley, Jackie and Abby Henry, Shelly Demine/Horner, Mary & Jack Mehalic, Walt and Janet Poole, Mark & Debbie Zello and Chestnut Ridge Beverage Co.

Those responsible for coordinating this event included KVS members J. Mehalic, president, Skip Shawley, vice-president, Dale Taylor, treasurer, Dan Mickey, recording secretary, Leo Henry Jr., head trustee, Game Committee President Walt Poole and Game Committee member, Roger Bridge. The Game Committee and KVS wives reportedly did most of the work. In addition, lots of free food and cold drinks were provided.

“I wish someone would have done this type of thing when I was a kid,” remarked  Greensburg resident Melvin Miller who retired six years ago. A member for seven years, he has been helping out with the competition for the last five years.

 In summing up the day, Taylor excitedly noted, “There was no doubt

- Paul J. Volkmann
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