WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Ah, ‘Derby’ days are back again

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Ah, ‘Derby’ days are back again


The only way I could describe it is “hiding in plain sight!”

I’m talking, of course, about what I consider one of the jewels of the Meriden Parks and Recreation Department, Mirror Lake in Hubbard Park.

In the past couple of years it has gotten even better, and next Saturday, May 13, it will again feature the City of Meriden/Meriden Rod & Gun Club/Carl D’Addario Children’s Fishing Derby.

This annual event always takes place of the DEEP Inland Fisheries Free Fishing Day. This allows any person, such as a parent or guardian or just a single adult, to fish any body of water in Connecticut without having to purchase a fishing license on this one day.

The Children’s Fishing Derby is open to kids ages 15 and younger, features all kinds of prizes in various age categories.

There will be free hot dogs and soft drinks and the Inland Fisheries has also promised to have a stocking truck on site so the kids will have a chance to stock the trout before they fish for them.

I recommend bringing a clean bucket along if you want your kids to help with the stocking. The trout will be stocked most probably between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m.

You won’t even have to worry about getting some worms because, as they always do, the folks from Fishin’ Factory in Southington will be supplying the bait for free.

The gang from the Meriden Rod & Gun Club will be on hand to handle registering kids before the fishing derby and cooking the hotdogs and handing out the prizes.

Also, this event takes place RAIN OR SHINE!

For many years, Mirror Lake was limited to children ages 15 and younger for fishing. Every once in a while it would be stocked with trout and it also held quite a number of panfish, including sunfish, yellow perch, calico bass, bullheads, largemouth bass and carp.

When I was a kid many, many, moons ago, before TV, computers and smart phones, it was a place where many Meriden youths would congregate and spend time fishing. I can still remember my father telling me he wished that he could fish there, the fishing was so great.

Over the years ,when I became too old to fish Mirror Lake, I would run into many older Meriden anglers who said they wished they could get a chance to fish Mirror Lake, and who could blame them? There’s easy access to just about any portion of the lake.

As the years went by and there were news stories about horrific things happening to kids across the nation, I noticed a dramatic drop in youths fishing Mirror Lake. It appeared that parents were a bit leery of letting their offspring venture out on their own, and since Mirror Lake was only for children ages 15 and younger, interest waned.

I then came up with the bright idea of letting an adult fish Mirror Lake as long as they had a child fishing with them. The City Council accepted the idea.

This seemed to work out a little better, but the elderly anglers complained they were being left out. Another trip to the Meriden City Council took care of that and Mirror Lake could now be fished by just about anyone, including licensed adults.

And then DEEP Inland Fisheries made it even better. The agency suggested making Mirror Lake a Community Fishing spot and would stock it with trout and channel catfish. This was agreed to, and since then Mirror Lake has provided some really great fishing for just about anyone.

Besides the great fishing for trout and catfish, one of the best-kept secrets of Mirror Lake is the giant carp that are caught there. Twenty pound carp are not unusual, and I have seen them caught well over the 30-pound mark.

For the May 13th City of Meriden Children’s Fishing Derby, volunteers from the Meriden Rod & Gun Club will be set up over by the spring house on the upper entrance to the park.Participants are reminded that they MUST register before the derby begins.

The Children’s Fishing Derby will take place from 10 a.m. to noon, when various winners will be announced.

After the derby ends, anybody can fish Mirror Lake for just this one day, including unlicensed adults.

With the cooperation of the DEEP Inland Fisheries stocking truck, this event has taken on a whole new look.

The City of Meriden/Meriden Rod & Gun Club/Carl D’Addario Children’s Fishing Derby is a great way to get a kid hooked on fishing, not drugs. I hope to see you all there.

P.S.: Don’t tell anyone I told you, but I saw the stocking truck at Mirror Lake just before the Daffodil Festival.

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