WATERTOWN — After a five-year hiatus, the Watertown Sportsmen’s Club Youth Trout Derby, now called the Stephen Rich Trout Fishing Derby, took place on Dry Hill Road on Sunday with around 70 families ready to join in the fishing.
Stephen M. Rich, son of Stephen L. Rich, after whom the derby is named, said this year’s derby was a bit more special for him following his father’s death in January.
“I have such great memories coming here,” he said. “My brothers and sisters are here, they all have great memories of it.”
Sarah K. Conley, president of the Watertown Sportsmen’s Club, attended Stephen L. Rich’s wake, when she and her son began discussing the possibility of bringing the derby back.
“It’s like he’s standing there talking to us,” Mr. Rich said. “Both of our dads actually, because his dad was involved.”
Before the five-year break, it had lasted 49, making this year the derby’s 50th edition.
Each year, a bike is given to the big winner, the youngster who catches the biggest trout.
One of the grand prize winners this year was 3-year-old Annie M. Rogers, who caught an 18.5-inch trout on Sunday.
” This ! she said, spreading her arms when asked how excited she was about her new bike.
Her father, Matt A. Rogers, said his daughter had never fished before and the 18.5-inch trout was the first fish she had ever caught.
Mr Rogers won the derby in 1995, but the fish he caught was not as big as the one his daughter caught on Sunday.
Erin J. Coyer brought his son and wife to the event for the first time “just to hang out.”
“We love to fish and we really love trout,” she said.
Another mother, Tamara K. Puccia, brought her son and his friends for the first time after hearing about the event from a Cub Scout leader.
“Our Cub Scout leader shared the flyer…and we live in Watertown, and my son loves to fish so we picked up a few of his friends,” she said. At one point they had caught 15 fish but no fish that counted towards the derby.
“They really had a blast,” she said.
Mrs. Puccia’s son, Carmine F. Puccia, said he was very happy to catch the fish and the bullfrogs.
Children between the ages of 4 and 8 were eligible for the younger group while children between the ages of 9 and 14 were eligible for the older group.
Ms Conley said the fish were stored by Denley Trout Farm in Port Leyden.
“Usually he knows a year in advance, or six months in advance, so we only gave him three, four months and he found some nice fish,” she said. “They came, they gave us wonderful fish.” Fish sizes ranged from eight inches to the winning catch of 18.5 inches.
Planning for the event began in March and continued through Sunday, the day of the event.
Seeing the kids’ reaction to catching the fish and seeing how much fun they had was the most rewarding part of organizing the derby, said Howard A. Scott. Treasurer of the Sports Club.
The plan is for the event to once again become an annual tradition.