Island kids reel in fish, food and prizes at annual derby
The annual event is hosted by the Jamestown Striper Club. Founded in 1965, the Striper Club is a nonprofi t organization that aims to preserve the traditions of saltwater recreational fishing, according to club member Fred Brown. The club has sponsored the Kids’ Fishing Derby since the 1970s, with the hope of sparking kids’ interest in the sport and helping them learn how to fish. “What better way to promote fishing than to teach and show the next generations of anglers how much fun it is?” Brown said.
Approximately 80 children attended the event. Club member Bill Pratt’s children, Claudia, 7, and Henry, 10, who have attended the derby for years. Claudia said she started fishing two years ago, while Henry – who has four years of angling experience – fishes more often. The elder Pratt said he does not cast his line at the derby and that “it’s really all for the kids.”
“I started coming to the derby for my kids,” he said. “I don’t participate, but I help them cast and untangle their reels.” When asked why she returns year after year, Claudia said she has “never won, but really loves to fish.”
While some participants come out to compete and win, others come simply to enjoy the sun and the sport of fishing. “I just really like fishing and a lot of my friends come here,” said 11-year-old John Chamberlain. “It would be nice to win, but I would still go even if I never won.”
Jake Froberg, 7, agreed. When asked why he returned to fish for his fourth year in a row, Jake said, “If I feel a grab, I just like to pull it up.”
Trophies were awarded for first, second and third place in three divisions: Ages 1-6, 7-11 and 12-15. The first place winner in each division received a new rod and reel, along with the trophy.
Ben Waldo took first place in the 1-6 division with a 1.4-pound fish, followed by Ally Sabourin in second and Sidney Gillis in third. In the 7-11 division, Meghann Maguire won first with a 3.3-pound fish, the largest of the day. Abby Burns, who caught the second-biggest fish at 2.715 pounds, and Jordan Smith followed Maguire in second and third place. Maddie Zeek won the first-place trophy in the 12-15 division with a 2.97-pound fish, followed by Noel Laflamme and his brother, Marc Laflamme.
Dave Michael, secretary and treasurer of the Striper Club, stressed the importance of fishing not only as a competitive or leisure activity, but also as a social experience.
“It’s enjoyable and a good thing to go out and be with nature,” Michael said. “But fishing is also about being with people.” Through sharing fishing stories and angling with others, Michael said he has experienced the bonds formed through fishing first-hand. “I’ve made several friends just by being in the club and fishing with them,” he said.
The derby was free, and attendees also received free hot dogs, chips, soda, bait and prizes. Participating fishermen were asked to bring nothing but their own rods.
“It’s all for free,” said Striper Club President James M. Jaques. “It’s a way to give back to the community.” Annual dues of $50 for club members, along with donations from local donors, help fund the event. “When you’re a charitable organization, other people want to help you out with in-kind donations,” Pratt said.
This year, trophies were supplied by Art’s Complete One Automotive Service. Rods and reels were sponsored by Yoffa Woodworking, bait was donated by Zeek’s Creek and ice was donated by Jamestown Wine and Spirits. To learn more about the Jamestown Striper Club, visit www.jamestownstriperclub. org.