Big turnout at Ludlow fishing derby

President of BRRGC Steven Howard prepares to award a fishing pole to a lucky angler. Photo by Kyle Laurita-Bonometti

LUDLOW, Vt. – “Start your engines.” With the sun shining and 40 young anglers and their families standing at the edge of Cook Pond in Ludlow, Steven Howard, President of the Black River Rod and Gun Club, hollered to the crowd over the tips of their fishing rods. “Ready!” he cried. “Set! Go!”

On Saturday, May 14, the BRRGC held their annual fishing derby by their headquarters in eastern Ludlow. Tables, loaded with homemade doughnuts and coffee, chips and hotdogs, and charts bearing the names of the young fishermen, stretched out by the forest’s fringe, while families readied to begin casting. Locals and nonresidents alike partook in the festivity, as parents hooked bait and helped their young ones reel in trout that had been stocked in the pond in anticipation of the derby. Some 200 trout had been introduced to Cook Pond to prepare for the event, and between the hours of 9 and 10:30 a.m., Howard was constantly busy as kids between the ages of 3 and 16 lined up to have their fish weighed. “6.2 ounces!” Howard would cry to his wife, Maria, who was jotting down the catches. “8.7! That one’s bigger than you!”

The Club holds the fishing derby every year. According to Don Lagro, one of the BRRGC’s directors, it started in the early 1950s and was originally held at Jewel Brook. The Club shifted to Cook Pond years later and have stayed active, hosting events like the Fishing Derby and their annual Field Day, which takes place every August. “We’re all volunteer based,” said Lagro, as beside him Howard dropped another trout on the scale. “It’s the volunteers that can allow us to do this.”

Prize winners at the BRRGC Fishing Derby. Photo by Jean Strong

Children were awarded prizes for first fish and largest fish caught. A limit of five fish was placed on every angler, and most fishermen caught their five, with a total of 103 fish caught between the participants. From four-year-olds, hardly able to lift a rod, to sixteen-year-olds, who came by themselves to try their luck, the air was full of the whoops and hollers of success throughout the morning. “We try to make it as fun as possible for the kids,” said Howard as a young girl ran up to him, a fish wiggling in her hands. “We want them to fish.”

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