- FUN FEATURES
Chris and Anthony Vignola decided to get an early jump on things at the Cheshire Parks and Recreation Steven Hovarth Memorial Fishing Derby Monday morning.
Out the door and at the Mixville Recreation Area by 8 a.m., the father-son duo were hoping to get a “lay of the land” and perhaps find a good spot to set up shop for the morning fishing.
They got a lot more than that.
As the two approached the pond, they noticed a truck and some workers, who were just about to get ready to stock the pond full of fish. The timing could not have been more fortuitous, as the workers decided to let Anthony Vignola lend a hand in placing the fish in the water.
“It was really cool,” said Anthony Vignola, a few hours after, as he sat in his yard chair keeping a close eye on his fishing line for any indication a fish was on.
“It wasn’t anything like we thought it would be,” added Chris. “I thought they would just back a truck up and dump them in, but they actually take them out using a net and gently put them in. It was fun to see.”
Though the morning temperatures remained cool, and the sun only sporadically peaked through the high skies in the area, hundreds of happy fishermen turned out on Monday for the annual derby.
Residents could be seen baiting their lines with everything from worms to small plastic lures, hoping to put together the right combination to attract the biggest catch of the day.
“It has been a great turnout so far,” said Cheshire Parks and Recreation Program Coordinator Elizabeth Mayne. “I was a little worried because of the weather but, besides being a little chilly, it has been just fine.”
The derby kicked off a very busy week for Mayne and the entire Parks and Recreation Department. Each year, during the school district’s spring recess, the department schedules numerous family activities, which include a Go Fly Your Kite Day, Touch a Truck event, and a trip to the Bronx Zoo. Because there is no school for the week, children who would usually be studiously preparing for tests and projects are instead free to partake in the fun and exciting activities the department has planned.
By 10:30 a.m., the derby had already brought out young and old, as mothers and fathers stood side-by-side with their children, trying to capture a prize catch.
“She was pretty excited,” said Scott Brewer, whose 6-year-old daughter Sydney caught the first fish of the day. “This is our first year fishing and we got in a little practice yesterday and decided to come out for this today.”
Sydney Brewer sat alongside her brother, Daniel, in small chairs, watching the pond for any signs of movement, with Scott Brewer standing in the background, doling out an instruction or two when necessary.
“It is beginning to get nicer, and a little warmer, now,” said Scott Brewer, as he looked across the pond. “It should be a really nice day.”
Those who were fortunate enough to make a catch immediately brought the fish over to a table where a ruler was set up. That’s exactly where young Kevin Lenoce headed after he caught his first fish of the day, racing over to the ruler to find out how big it was.
After confirming that his catch was just over eight inches long, he was asked by his grandfather, Don Guenther, whether he wanted to keep the fish or throw it back.
“Let’s throw it back,” said Lenoce, and, after posing quickly for a few pictures, the two raced to the pond to return the fish to its natural habit.
According to Parks officials, more than 200 fish were placed in the pond Monday morning and, while fishing will be allowed from now until the end of the summer, this will be the only time the area will be stocked.
Different varieties and sizes of trout were placed in the pond, including Brook Trout, Rainbow Trout, and Golden Trout.
It was a good beginning to what Mayne hoped will be a very enjoyable week.
“It would be nice to get this kind of breeze for the kites,” she said, with a grin.