WOODS ‘N’ WATER: The derby is back and numbers are on the rise

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: The derby is back and numbers are on the rise


First things first! Tomorrow is the Annual City of Meriden, Meriden Rod & Gun Club Carl D’Addario Children’s Fishing Derby. It will be held in Hubbard Park on Mirror Lake.

One of the things that make it so special is that kids get a chance to stock the lake prior to the derby with trout supplied by the CT DEEP Inland Fisheries Division.

On top of that, after the derby ends at noon, adults may also fish for the trout and, for this one day, they do not need a CT fishing license to do so. It is FREE fishing day —  but, again, adults will not be allowed to fish until the derby is over.

The DEEP Inland Fisheries stocking truck should be there between 8-8:30 a.m. Signups for the derby begins at 9 a.m. The derby runs from 10 a.m. to noon.

There will be plenty of prizes for participants in various age categories and the Meriden Rod & Gun Club will be serving up a beverage and bag of snacks for the kids. For safety sake, there will be no hot dogs this year.

Bait in the form of nightcrawlers, furnished by the Fishin’ Factory in Southington, will be available for the young fishermen. Finally, as a safety precaution for all concerned, face masks will be required and social distancing will be the rule except for members of the same family fishing together.

Regarding fishing in general, according to the Recreation Boating & Fishing Foundation, 55 million Americans ages 6 and up went fishing in 2020. According to preliminary data, 5 million were new and returning anglers who were younger, more diverse and live in urban areas, representing a 10-percent growth in fishing participation in 2020.

It really seems a shame that it would take something as horrid as the COVID-19 pandemic to get the general public to finally recognize the benefit of outdoor recreation like fishing.

It does pain me to say it, but according to all of the statistics, many outdoor activities did benefit from the pandemic, with fishing and boating heading the list of increased participants.

In a special report of key findings, the Recreation Boating & Fishing Foundation says that fishing participation rates rose to 18 percent of the U.S. population, the highest rate in over a decade.

Youth participation in 2020 grew 53 percent to 13.5 million participants, while Hispanics participated at an all-time high with 4.8 million participants, a 13-percent increase from 2019.

The ladies made their presence known with 19.7 million female participants, representing 36 percent of total participants — an all-time high. Nearly 1.8 million more women went fishing than in the year prior, an increase of 10 percent.

First-time participants climbed to 4.4 million, up from 3.1 million the previous year. Reactivated participants soared to 9 million compared to the previous year. Also, according to the Recreation Boating & Fishing Foundation report, 88 percent of current fishing participants fished before the age of 12.

Preliminary data did identify a troubling three-year trend among lapsed anglers. In 2020, 8.8 million anglers lapsed out of the sport. This group, primarily made up of Americans ages 55 and older, cited lack of time, preference for other outdoor activities, cost, loss of interest and lack of access to waterways as the primary reasons for their lapse.

Bottom line? Get the kids hooked on fishing, not drugs. See you at the derby tomorrow.

Turkey hunting

Depending on who you talk to, spring turkey hunters have been having some luck and many sightings, but it seems the toms are still a bit hesitant to come to the calling.

Keep in mind that it is still early in the season and some of the hens are still begging the toms for some loving. Let’s face it, a tom will be more attracted to a live hen that he can see, rather than a call with no hen in sight.

I have found that, as the season goes on, the toms become more susceptible to your calling, but keep in mind that sometimes you can also overdo the calling.

I found this out a number of years ago while turkey hunting in Connecticut. I played calling-tag with this one big tom for the better part of the spring turkey season. I would sneak into the woods under cover of darkness, get set up and wait for the tom to make the first gobble.

I would then answer him with my hen call and he seemed to go crazy with his gobbling, yet never came within my shooting range. This scenario went on for a number of days until, near the end of the season, I decided to change tactics.

I snuck into the woods as I usually did and set up against a large tree and waited for the tom to gobble. When he did, I made one faint hen call, then put the call down and waited.

The tom kept gobbling, but I kept silent.

I guess curiosity got the best of him because he finally came sneaking in looking for the hen and ended up on the Roberts’ dinner table.

And regarding a lack of gobbling, one year I took three toms between New York and Connecticut and none of the three ever gobbled before coming in to me. They were as silent as a deer, so you do have to keep an eye open because not all of the toms will let you know they are in the area.

Hey, see ya’ tomorrow at the kids fishing derby. God Bless America and watch over our troops, police, firefighters and first responders wherever they may be serving this great country of ours.

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