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WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Mirror Lake is the place for this Derby Day

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Mirror Lake is the place for this Derby Day

Calling all kids! Calling all kids!

Get the adults in your lives to bring you over to Mirror Lake in Hubbard Park tomorrow — Saturday — for the City of Meriden / Meriden Rod & Gun Club / Carl D’Addario Children’s Fishing Derby.

It promises to be an exciting event for kids ages 15 and under. The CT DEEP Inland Fisheries Division will have a trout stocking truck on hand at 9 a.m. to allow children and parents to stock Mirror Lake with trout prior to the derby. This is always an exciting time for kids and parents to see and take part in the stocking of trout.

As always, the Meriden Rod & Gun Club will provide the volunteers to run the derby with the cooperation of Meriden Parks and Recreation Department, which goes out of its way to assist in any way possible.

There will be a bunch of prizes in different age categories, including some nifty bicycles and fishing equipment. Participants can release the fish after they have been caught and recorded for the contest or they may keep them.

There will also be free hot dogs and beverages for the participants and, once again, those world-famous hot dog chefs Ray Guest and Jim Dubinsky will be on hand to do the cooking.

This children’s fishing contest has been going on for a number of years now. For a while, it was held at Baldwin’s Pond, but has really taken off since moving to Mirror Lake.

For years, Mirror Lake was designated as a fishing spot for children ages 15 and under only. Back in the 1940s and early ’50s, the shoreline would be filled with young anglers trying to catch some of the trout that were stocked into its waters, including a tagged trout that would reward the lucky angler with a brand new bicycle.

As time went on, it appeared that organized youth sports took away many of the young anglers. Then the gruesome appearance of child molesters and the disappearance of some children made parents feel uneasy about letting their children fish Mirror Lake unattended.

I brought this to the attention of the Meriden City Council and suggested the children-only regulation be changed to allow adults accompanying a child to also fish. This worked quite well and soon the Council also allowed senior citizens to fish Mirror Lake and things began to be looking up,

The CT DEEP Inland Fisheries Division liked what they saw at Mirror Lake and suggested it become a Community Fishing Water. It would be open to the public and the DEEP would stock it with trout and channel catfish, a fish that can grow to an exciting size. This really jumped the popularity of Mirror Lake as a fishing spot for both young and old.

One of the biggest surprises that comes from the Children’s Fishing Derby is the variety of fish species caught during the contest. Along with the trout, I have seen carp weighing well over 25 pounds, catfish over three pounds, largemouth bass that would make any pro bass angler proud, calico bass (crappie), yellow perch, bluegills and other sunfish, bullheads and even an eel or two.

The Children’s Fishing Derby will take place rain or shine (the fish don’t mind the rain). There will be bait (nightcrawlers) available free to participants donated by the Fishin’ Factory on the Meriden/Waterbury Road in Southington.

As mentioned, there will be bicycles, fishing gear and a host of other prizes that will go to some lucky young anglers as well as free hot dogs and soft drinks. Portable toilets will be available, addressing a complaint from derbies past.

Registration for the debry and the stocking of trout will take place from 9-10 a.m. The contest begins at 10 a.m. and ends at noon. Again, the contest takes place rain or shine.

As an added bonus, this contest is taking place on what the Connecticut DEEP Inland Fisheries Division calls Free Fishing Day. This means that even an adult who does not hold a valid state fishing license can fish after the derby is over, but just for tomorrow.

What better way to introduce a child to the wonders of fishing at beautiful Hubbard Park? There is a whole lot of truth in the saying, “Get a kid hooked on fishing, not drugs.”

I’ll be looking for you tomorrow. The more kids and adults, the better.

Downriver Classic

Billed as the longest running canoe and kayak race in Connecticut, the Quinnipiac River Watershed Association’s 39th Annual Quinnipiac Downriver Classic will take place next Sunday, May 19, rain or shine.

Awards go to the top three finishers in each class and there will be a post-race cookout and raffle at the QRWA Headquarters on Oregon Road.

Registration runs from 9-10:30 a.m. in the DOT parking lot on Route 322 on the Southington/Cheshire town line. Starting time is 11 a.m.

Entry fee is $18 per paddler. Canoes, life jackets and paddles are available free of charge, but must be reserved in advance by calling Dan Pelletier at 860-754-8702.

The finish line for the race is Red Bridge in South Meriden and there will be vehicle parking on the QRWA HQ lawn. As an added attraction, the pipe that blocked the paddlers, as well as Carpenter’s Dam, have been removed!

More on the QRWA canoe/kayak race next week. See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops wherever they may be serving.