Sunday, June 29, 2014

Paddling for Pickerel

I love to fish but very seldom do I compete when fishing.  I wanted to stress this before you read this entry.  My success at the derby described below, or maybe I should say lack of success demonstrates my lack of competitive fishing skills.  I don't use a fish finder, I don't have a trolling motor, and I only have one bait casting rod.  However,  I think as an avid outdoors man I need to support my local Fish and Game Association.  This derby provided me an opportunity to expose my son to lake fishing and support the Fish and Game Association. 

As the sun was coming up I was behind the shed with a shovel.  Don't worry I wasn't burying any secrets, I was digging worms.  I had already loaded the canoe on the truck and a lunch was chilling in the cooler.  It took some prodding but my son got up and was excited to head out for the first time to do some lake fishing.  A fishing trip is one way to get him going.

The Sussex Fish and Game Association (SFG) were hosting their annual "Cassidy Lake Fishing Derby" and we were heading there in hopes of catching the longest fish.  We'd be happy just to catch a fish to be honest.  Cassidy Lake is a big lake and we'd be paddling a canoe and luckily I had my father to help with some of the paddling.  At least with the canoe I wouldn't have to spend a great deal of time unloading it.

Maybe one of the best things about this derby is the breakfast the SFG put on.  As we ate we looked out over the lake, the water glistened and a number of boats were already trying their luck.  It was a full breakfast with pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon, and hash browns.  We gobbled it down like we hadn't eaten in days but it was just that good and we were just that anxious to get on the water. 

As we pushed the canoe out into the lake my son got a slight look of fear on his face but it was quickly erased by his sense of adventure.  I love how a canoe quietly glides through water and how you can quickly put distance between you and the shoreline.  I steered us to a nearby point as the others prepped their poles for the first casts.  As I set us up to glide across an area where I thought there might be some pickerel the others already had their lines in the water.

On my first cast I literally hooked a fish.  It was a small pickerel which I failed to land.  Shortly after that my father managed to land another 15" pickerel which we decided likely wasn't going to win the tournament so we let him go.  I thought foolishly that with such a start we might be in for a great day.  We landed one other small pickerel and paddled a great deal of the lake for about 3 hours and caught nothing close to what the eventual winner, Joe Miller, caught.  I think he landed a 24" fish.

We fished right up until registration time and when we pulled the boat to shore, my son took off to see the fish that were registered.  Before I got to the crowd he came running to me holding a fishing pole he had just won in a ticket draw.  He was super excited and the smile on his face made all the paddling aches I was feeling disappear.  I think every kid that took part won a prize and how do you top such an event.

My name was drawn too for a prize and I walked away with a nice kayak.  I didn't even have to catch a fish to win it.  I want to thank the SFG and the organizers of this event.  Often times those who put events on like this are under appreciated so I want to give a big thanks for the time and effort those folks put in to that event.
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