Record day at fishing derby

Staff photo: Andy DeLisle Sarah Hernandez, 12, fishes Saturday while her dad, Richard, unhooks a fish his son, Richard Jr., just caught during the Optimist Club of Clovis’ annual fishing derby at Ned Houk Park.

By Helena Rodriguez: CNj staff writer

Young anglers from the Clovis area reeled in 933 pounds of the scaled creatures from Ned Houk Lake on Saturday, breaking all records in the Optimist Club of Clovis’ 20th annual fishing derby.

“We set all records in every category we have this year,” said Jeff Baum, the derby director. “This is in terms of how many kids caught fish, percentage-wise, how many fish were caught and the number of pounds caught. We’ve been doing this for 20 years now, and this is the most that has ever been caught. We went from 300 pounds to almost 1,000 pounds.”

According to Baum, 96 children, ranging in ages from under 5 to 16, participated in the fishing derby, catching a total of 94 fish. The top reeler was Emily Gravey, who was in the 7- to 8-year-old category, and caught a fish weighing 5 pounds, 15 ounces. Shania Johnson, from the 9- to 10-year-old group, caught the most pounds of fish, netting 35 pounds, 10 ounces. Joshua Treadway, caught the most number of fish at 12.

Baum said that the big lake at Ned Houk Park was recently stocked with 1,000 fish by the Dexter National Fish Hatchery, and thanks to the nice stock of fish, 11-year-old Nico Gutierrez made his first catch within minutes of casting his line in the water.

“Keep reeling! Keep reeling!” Nico’s father, Frank, coached him along as he reeled in his prized catch, a 3- to 4-pound catfish. As his mother, Angelica, took a picture of him with his scaled trophy, Nico said, “I beat Grandma! I beat Grandma! I beat her record!”

Angelica said her family began fishing together a couple of years ago and this was their first year to participate in the Optimist Club’s fishing derby.

Misty Roland of Georgia was in town visiting her family in Clovis and said this was her second year to bring her two children to the fishing derby.

“I thinking fishing is a really good family activity,” Roland said. “It teaches patience, waiting for the big one, and it’s an inexpensive family activity.”

As for 9-year-old Tyler Clark, his third time to participate in the fishing derby was a charm. Last year, he made only one catch, but shortly after 9 a.m. Saturday, he had already caught “two big ones” and his sister had caught one.

“I like fishing. I can catch lots of stuff and have fun,” Tyler said. “I get bored sometimes, but it’s worth the wait.”

Tyler said the biggest fish he has caught to date was a 3-pounder. As for his catch Saturday morning, he said, “I will probably eat the fish.”

Tyler, who is the son of Ronnie and Jodi Clark, said he and his dad try to go fishing every weekend.