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Young anglers derby leaders

Kaylee Sterkel, 5, high-fives her fishing partner Danny Land of Minden at the fishing derby on Saturday. Kaylee has fished many times but this is her first catch.
Brad Coman | The Record-Courier

Age is no factor when it comes to having success at the Kids’ Fishing Derby.

A quick glance at the “Big Fish Board” during the 25th annual Kids Fishing Derby — which drew 1,500 young anglers 3-12 years of age Saturday and Sunday to Lampe Park — revealed four of the winners from seven sessions were 3. One was 5 and another 7. There was one 11-year-old winner, although Jonathan emerged as the grand prize winner with his 1-pound, 14-ounce catch.

“Usually, it’s spread out, but for some reason, the young kids were the ones catching the big fish,” said Steve Hamilton, vice-president for the board of directors.

Hamilton pointed out the derby was again made possible by support from the community, including 225 volunteers and donations of prizes from merchants.

An awards ceremony was held Saturday morning, at which time Bob Ellis was presented with a commemorative plaque and a Mitchell 300 rod & reel combination to recognize his participation in each of the 25 derbies.

The stocking of 5,000 fish (300 tagged for prizes) from the Nevada Department of Wildlife’s Mason Valley Fish Hatchery and O’Banion’s Fish Hatchery in Smith Valley brought out a young crowd Thursday morning.

“We had the entire first and second grades from Gardnerville Elementary School out there and they literally lined both banks,” Hamilton said. “It was just awesome.”

Fish not caught during the derby were transported to the Mitch Park Pond in the Ranchos and Gilman Pond.

Doug Busey has been involved in the derby for about 20 years and was on hand Sunday to serve as emcee. Busey flashed a wide smile as he encouraged the crowd and fish — “Look at that fish jump up,” he said, “it’s doing the fish dance” — to support the youngsters at the end of the day’s final session.

“Like this young man over here; he was an angler out here when I was a volunteer,” Busey said, motioning to one father seated on the bank with his own young son. “I love it … it’s one great event.”

And, remember, it turned out to be a pretty good weekend for those 3-year-olds.

“Some of them caught fish with tiny Barbie fishing poles,” he added with a laugh. “Sonora (age 3), caught a fish that was longer than her pole (1 pound, 12 ounces).”

Another of the 3-year-old winners was Rylee, who used a super hero fishing pole.

“She was so happy to catch that fish,” Hamilton said. “That’s what the Kids’ Fishing Derby is all about.”