Saturday May 22 was Chester’s fishing derby. It is sponsored by the Chester Rod & Gun Club and held at the Chester reservoir. As usual, Danny Clemons and I were there.
George Wilson was there and registered 37 kids for the event. By the end of the day 57 fish were caught. This year George had some great prizes including rod and reel combinations, tackle boxes, packs of lures, and fish nets. At 9 a.m. George blew the horn announcing the derby was open. It wasn’t long before the first trout was caught. This prize went to Brooks Wilder. He went on to catch other trout.
I talked with some of the kids. As you might imagine many were rather shy. I managed to loosen them up some for a photo by saying something silly or absurd. Eight-year-old Addison Wilkins caught four trout. I sat down on the dam to talk with her. When she told me her name was Addison I remembered her from years before.
I said, “You were two years old when I first took your photo here.” “Yes,” her grandmother said. Me to Addison, “Well now that you’re grown up and an old pro, what do you like most about fishing?” Addison, “Catching a fish when they are pulling on the line is real challenging.”
George brought a can of bug dope for people to use. I watched as a mother sprayed her kid’s arms and legs with bug dope. Then she sprayed the kid’s face. I hesitated to intervene but felt compelled.
I said to mom, “Spray the dope in your hand and then rub your hands together. Then rub both hands on your forehead, cheeks, chin, and neck. This will keep the bugs away and keep the dope away from your mouth, nose, and eyes.” Mom was appreciative.
Arne Jonynas showed up to take in his first derby. Arne wore a broad smile as he walked around. He was impressed with the turnout. Arne said to me, “I had no idea how big this was.” He loved it. I told him it was thanks to the Chester Rod & Gun Club, Vermont Fish & Wildlife for stocking the brook trout, and the Town of Chester for allowing use of the reservoir.
As George registered the kids he gave each a raffle ticket. When the derby was over at 11 a.m., George held the raffle. For me this was the highlight of the day.
George was at his table surrounded by kids holding their tickets. George would reach into the hat to draw a ticket. The kids waited anxiously for George to read the winning number. I wish you could have seen how attentive these kids were. How excited they were when their number was called. Others waited in anticipation that their number would be next. George did a superb job entertaining these kids. It’s a day many will long remember.
I spoke with several parents or grandparents I didn’t know. Some knew me through this column. All were friendly and interested in the day. It was a good day to live in Vermont.
Benjamin Griswold was the first to catch his limit of five. The largest fish was a 15-inch bass caught by Isabella Neathawk. All three prize winners won a rod and reel, a tackle box, or both.
In recent years, bass have become the dominant predator in the reservoir. Gary Parker was at the derby with his grandchildren. Gary told me he has seen huge bass in the upper end when he’s out on the water. I think I’ll try a jitterbug about 7:30 some evening. Bass love a jitterbug when it is slowly retrieved on top of the water. A little practice and you will perfect the proper wiggle.
Black works best. As a bass looks up to the surface the color black is more visible to them. It’s most effective to work the black jitterbug along the shoreline. Stop reeling, and let it sit a few seconds, and then give it a twitch before you resume reeling. Wham! You got one on. How they do fight.
Instead of an old saying I offer this: On my way home I came down Elm Street. Two young girls were selling lemonade on their lawn when I drove by. Henry thought I should go back so I turned around. A cup of lemonade was a dollar and another $4 for a dozen fresh eggs. I take my hat off to these young entrepreneurs. This is how it begins.