WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Dandy derby recalls past glory and potential resurgence

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Dandy derby recalls past glory and potential resurgence

The biggest worry after having to cancel last year’s children’s fishing derby at Hubbard Park because of the COVID-19 pandemic was would parents and kids want to attend the derby this year?

The answer was a resounding YES!

Over the years, the City of Meriden, Meriden Rod & Gun Club Carl D’Addario Children’s Fishing Derby has seen many highs as well as lows regarding participation.

For a number of years, it was held at Baldwin’s Pond off North Wall Street in Meriden, but as the pond returned to being a muddy, weed-filled, swamp-like body of water, local interest in fishing it waned.

So the decision was made to move the kid’s derby to Mirror Lake in Hubbard Park, and things began to get better attendance-wise. Each year, more and more children and their parents turned out for the derby.

One of the reasons? It was held in conjunction with the Connecticut DEEP Inland Fisheries’ “Free Fishing Day.” This is the one day any adult can fish even without a valid CT Fishing license. This was instituted with the hope of introducing citizens to the fun of fishing.

By the looks of the Mirror Lake shoreline last Saturday, both events are working. Free Fishing Day for adults and the City of Meriden, Meriden Rod & Gun Club, Carl D’Addario Children’s Fishing Derby saw one of the highest number of participants in recent years.

The Meriden Parks and Recreation Department did an excellent job controlling traffic. This was accomplished despite the fact that, along with the derby, they had a school parade to contend with.

It seems that both went well. Again, kudos to Chris Bourdon and Parks and Recreation for a super job in making the day such a huge success.

Also, a big thank you goes out to Mike Beauchene, the supervising biologist with the CT DEEP Department of Inland Fisheries. He and his trout-stocking crew came out and gave the kids and parents a chance to heavily stock Mirror Lake with trout.

Both the kids and parents had a ball catching fish, and there were refreshments to keep them going in the form of soft drinks and bags of snacks.

 There were 86 registered participants and 65 trout were brought to the weigh-in table. There were also a number on largemouth bass, sunfish and perch.

Six of the young anglers came away with bicycles for their efforts:

■Ages 1-5: Olivia Reunie won among the girls and Jack Fendt won among the boys;■Ages 6-10: Quinn Talento and Edwin Espinosa;■Ages 11-15: Jocelyn Tkacz and Sammy Franco.

Seeing so many young fishermen on the shores of Mirror Lake brought back memories from years gone by of the many derbies that have taken place at Mirror Lake. It really made my day to see such interest in fishing once again by both youngsters and their parents. I only hope the interest does not fade once the pandemic fear goes away.

Mirror Lake in Hubbard Park is probably one of the most under-fished bodies of water in our area. Besides the trout that are stocked there by Inland Fisheries, Mirror Lake also gets a yearly stocking of channel catfish, although last year’s stocking was passed up because of the pandemic.

Over the years, I have seen some really nice fish come out of Mirror Lake, including some largemouth bass that would make any bass fisherman proud. Mirror Lake is also home to a variety of other fish, including sunfish, calico bass (crappie), yellow perch, bullheads, eels and some really huge carp.

In fact, it would not surprise me if, sooner or later, a carp out of Mirror Lake becomes the new Connecticut record. The current state record for carp is 43 pounds, 12 ounces. It was caught in 2012 by Michael Hudak in the Connecticut River.

I have seen carp come out of Mirror Lake that tipped the scales at 39 pounds and were released back into the water “to get bigger.”

The channel catfish are a newcomer to Mirror Lake via the stocking program of the Inland Fisheries. Some of the fishermen I have talked to who have hooked up with them say some of the channel catfish are getting quite large and are exciting to catch.

Probably the least known or sought-after fish in Mirror Lake are the largemouth bass.

I have seen them caught by fishermen who were after other fish, but have not really seen any fishermen who were after the largemouth bass exclusively.

However, Mirror Lake is a nice spot to spend some time with the kids fishing because most of it has easy access and, if you do not want to keep the fish, then you can catch and release.

Mirror Lake also offers easy access for some handicapped fishermen because the exit road is close to the water. Just bring a folding chair, cast your line and enjoy the day.

I hope that those of you that showed up for the Annual Children’s Fishing Derby had a good time.

Turkey success

The turkey hunting team of Kyle Cooney and his son Brayden tagged a nice tom last week.

Kyle told me that in three previous outings they had never heard a gobble, but got lucky on their fourth try. Kyle did the calling and Brayden did the tagging. 

See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops, police, firefighters and first responders wherever they may be serving in this great country of ours.

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