November 27, 2021

Fishing derby hooks families

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Izabelle Rondell, 6, of Cortland has a perch weighed and measured by Izaak Walton League’s Brian Owens Saturday at Durkee Pond in Homer at the Hooked on Fishing Derby.

A sunny, warm Saturday morning is a good time for families to get out of the house and try some outdoor activities. And trying to catch a fish while they are at it.

The 15th annual Hooked on Fishing derby took place Saturday, as dozens of families came to Durkee Park in Homer, lining both sides of the Tioughnioga River passing through the park and the nearby lake so children could try their luck catching a big fish.

Nathan Moshkowski of Cortland brought his two sons, Levi, age 8 who wanted to catch a pike, and Lincoln, age 10, who wanted a carp.

The first fish of the day Levi caught was a green, 12.5 inch bass, but the organizers couldn’t count it because bass are not in season. So they had to put it back into the river.

“Hopefully we can catch something that counts,” Moshkowski said.

The derby was organized by the Cortland Youth Bureau, the Cortland County Federation of Sportsmen and the Cortland chapter of the Izaak Walton League. They each ran their own derbies for a number of years, but decided to join together 15 years ago.

“It gets people outside for the morning,” said Jeff Stewart, the president of the Izaak Walton League Cortland Chapter. “And it gets kids involved with a lifelong recreational activity.”

The awards for who could catch the biggest fish are divided into three age groups: 7 and under; 11 and under; and 15 and under. The main criteria is the length of the fish, with the weight being used as a tiebreaker. Smaller prizes would also be given out to the kids every 10 minutes, including fishing equipment, jump ropes, water toys, sidewalk chalk, and hula hoops.

Aidan Hutchins, 10, of Scott, sat in his foldout chair next to his mother, Amber Giamel, and grandfather Bill Marcile. He’s been fishing since he was 4 years old and has come to this event for three years.

Aidan won first place for his age division in 2014 by catching a 14-inch brown trout. He brought the trophy for that out with him for good luck.

“He’d be happy to catch anything,” Giamel said as Aidan waited for a nibble.