Hot weather (and fishing) for derby
1, Chance Bezzone, age 8, 7.69 pounds
2, Dane Wagner, 9, 4.80 pounds
3, Maddelynn McKinley, 10, 5.67 pounds
4, Sophia Beltinck, 9, 4.88 pounds
5, Riley Newell, 7, 6.13 pounds
6, Kellen Rackley, 12, 5.87 pounds
7, Ryden Wells, 6, 4.10 pounds
After late spring rain and snow, conditions began to heat up this past weekend in Carson Valley. And so did the fishing prospects for more than 1,000 young anglers during the 29th annual Kids’ Fishing Derby on Saturday and Sunday at Lampe Park.
Tyler Creel, in his second year as president of the event’s board of directors, flashed a big smile when asked about the derby for the boys and girls 3-12 years of age.
“It’s been amazing,” Creel said. “I don’t know what it was, but a lot of kids caught big fish … 3- and 4-pounders … and there are still a lot of big ones left.”
The prize for largest catch of the weekend went to Chance Bezzone, 8, who pulled in a 7.69-pounder during the first session on Saturday.
Seven-year-old Riley Newell wound up with the second largest catch overall and the best of Session 5 on Sunday morning with a 6.13-pounder. Riley caught his limit of two fish, which weighed 10.65 pounds combined.
Steve Hamilton, longtime board member and fundraising chairman for the derby, noted that the fish were biting from the start at 8 a.m. on Saturday.
“The first two sessions sold out,” Hamilton said. “We had 350 kids in each of those sessions and every one of those children caught their limit.”
Hamilton went on to extend his gratitude to the community support, as far as volunteers and donors who make the derby possible every year. He said the number of donors this year exceeded 180.
“This year we had a lot of new volunteers,” Creel said. “A lot of them used to participate and now they’ve come back as volunteers.”
One of those returnees is Blake Ranalla, 19, who like Creel, became involved with the Kids’ Fishing Derby as a young participant. He is now in his second year at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Ariz., and was on hand on Thursday for the fish plant. He was back at Willow Creek on Saturday and Sunday when the kids turned out to fish.
“I started as a participant in second grade and I’ve been a volunteer the last seven years. I grew up loving to fish and this (derby) is one of the reasons. I’ve been a part of it for so long, it’s just become a part of me.”
What attracts all these kids? Well, one reason could be the expressions on the faces of the young anglers when they catch their first fish.
“That is what keeps you coming back,” Creel said. “I just love it.”