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Families get hooked on fishing at annual Kid’s Fishing Derby

New Lenox Community Park District reeled in children and families to kick off its annual Kid’s Fishing Derby June 3 at Hibernia Park.

It offered an opportunity not only to compete, but also to bring families together. The annual event coincides with the State of Illinois and the start of fishing season.

“Everybody loves it because it gets the adults, the dads who are excited about fishing,” said Tracy Wrase, recreation supervisor. “It gets them excited with their little ones when they catch a fish.”

Last year, the Kid’s Fishing Derby brought in more than 130 participants.

“We had 80 pre-registered this year,” Wrase said. “So far, we’ve taken about 17, 18 on site already.”

The event has a refreshing way of drawing in not only fathers and their sons, but also fathers and their daughters, Wrase said.

“We like to see it because we have a lot of girls that come out and fish,” she said. “A lot of the girls get into fishing, so we like having this event because it helps show awareness that everyone can participate in fishing, and it doesn’t matter who you are, how old you are. You can have fun no matter what.”

The rules, Wrase said, are clear.

“They have an hour to fish, and it’s only kids, so it’s anybody ages 2 to 16 participates,” she said. “Parents help out every now and then.”

Let the fishing begin

William Kolacek, of New Lenox, was surveying the lake water with his sons, 5-year-old Sammie and 6-year-old Billy.

“It doesn’t seem like the fish are biting out here,” William said. “It seems like the fish are biting everywhere else but here. We’re still having fun, though.”

This year was the Kolacek’s first time participating in the Park District’s fishing derby.

“This is actually his first time really fishing, so he’s excited for it,” Kolacek said of Billy.

William said the fishing derby provides a nice way to bond with his sons.

Billy went on to agree, and said he’s having a good time “catching fish” with his dad.

Jim Ennis, of New Lenox, was watching as his 5-year-old son, Jared, reeled in an 18-inch catfish.

“[It was] great,” he said. “I love it.”

Jared said reeling in the catfish was “pretty hard.”

Jim said Jared is ready to go catch another.

This was not the Ennis’ first time fishing.

“[There was] no practice, but we fish quite a bit,” Jim said.

“He loves fishing,” Jim said of Jared.

Jim said he’s glad that he and his family decided to go fishing.

“[It’s nice] family stuff and [I’m] glad New Lenox [Community Park District] puts it on,” he said.

The results are in

Winners chose their prize at the conclusion of the derby.

“We worked with our sponsors this year, which is the Farrelly Foundation,” Wrase said. “They donated prizes for us.”

To qualify for a prize, a child had to rank in the Top 3 among their peers either for catching the longest fish, the shortest fish or the most fish.

For participants in ages 2 to 6 years bracket, the prizes for catching the most fish went to Griffin Kmitch with six, followed by Haylie Forrest and Ava Newman with five. In that same division, Jared Ennis reeled in the longest fish with an 18-inch catfish; Jaromir Marach with a 13-inch bass; and Ella Forystek with a 10.25-inch bass.

The shortest fish measured went to Aleksandra Marach with a 3.875-inch bluegill, followed by Leo Kmitch with a 4-inch bluegill and Aubrey Atzhorn with a 4.25-inch bluegill.

The prizes for those ages 7 to 11 years having recorded the longest fish went to Brandon Szelag with a 17-inch catfish and Ashton Costello with a 13-inch bass. That same group awarded the prizes for smallest fish to Nick Golf with a 3-inch fish and Mitchell Sladick with a 3.25-inch fish. As for the most fish caught, Makayla Brongiel brought in 21, and Bruce Schauer reeled in 12.

In the ages 12 to 16 years division, Timmy Wortmann and Max Olejniczak took home top honors for reeling in the longest fish at 13.5 and 9 inches, respectively. That same division recognized individuals for catching the shortest fish, and this included Leah Prince with a 5.5-inch bluegill and Jacob Manheim with a 6.75-inch fish.

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