5th. ANNUAL JR INVITATIONAL HOSTED BY CONNECTICUT
The motto of the Bryan V. Kerchal Memorial Fund is "Give a child a gift of joy - Give a child the gift of fishing." With that motto as the standard, Bryan's Fishing Camp was held from August 14-18 at the Girl Scout Camp on Candlewood Lake in Connecticut. The camp is a free weeklong day camp and overnight camp for 48 children, ages 7-13. It teaches fishing techniques and an appreciation for the protection and preservation of our water and fishery resources. This is the third consecutive year for the camp.
The camp was conducted under the auspices of the Great Hollow Wilderness School, headed by Jennifer Buckley and Gail Null, and The Bryan V. Kerchal Memorial Fund, which covered all expenses for the camp. Chris Bielert from Danbury was in charge of the advanced fishing courses (Level II) for children that had attended in previous years and excelled in their classes. Chris Mann from Williamstown, Vermont conducted classes for the entry-level anglers. In addition to the Great Hollow staff and adult angler volunteers, there were also five volunteer junior assistants, who had previously attended Bryan's Fishing Camp, but were to old to attend as campers.
Monday's program for the regular classes focused on boat safety, sportsmanship, knot tying, casting and proper care of the fish. Catch and release of fish is promoted. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the kids were fishing from bass boats and continuing their classes. During the week, 35 captains volunteered their time and bass boats. On Wednesday, Tanya Carlson of Danbury caught the heaviest fish of the week. Her smallmouth bass weighed in at 4 pounds and 9 ounces! She received a special trophy for her catch. On Friday, the children used the skills they had learned in the camp fishing tournament.
The tournament took place from 9:30 am to 2:00 pm and the field was divided into three categories: advanced class (Level II), regular class ages 10-13 (Level I-A) and regular class ages 7-10 (Level I-B). Trophies were awarded in each group for six places for most fish caught and three places for big fish caught. Remarkably, all trophies for big fish (9) were for bass weighing in excess of 2 pounds each.
In Level II (bass only), K.J. Mehmet, age 11, of Middlebury, CT took the 1st place trophy for most fish and Christopher Baksay, age 9, of Monroe, CT landed the big fish which weighed 3.67 pounds. In Level I-A, Steve Sabato, age 11, from Danbury, CT caught the most fish and Cameron Blossom, age 9, of South Royalton, VT won the trophy for big fish with a weight of 3.51 pounds. In Level I-B, Mike Laskowski, age 9, from Danbury, CT caught the most fish. Courtney Kichline, age 8, from Danbury, CT caught a 3.26 pound smallmouth to take 1st place for big fish.
The generosity of product sponsors was a key element in the success of Bryan's Fishing Camp. At the conclusion of the camp, regular participants all received a tackle box from PLANO, the rod and reel they used during the week, donated by ZEBCO and a bag containing hooks, soft and hard plastic lures, a knot book, a pack of Bryan's trading cards and other miscellaneous items. The advanced anglers, who brought their own fishing gear to the camp, received an assortment of hard plastic and carved wood lures including spinner baits, buzz baits, crank baits and top water baits. In addition to the contributions of PLANO and ZEBCO, PRADCO, LURH-JENSEN, LUNKER CITY, PLASTIC LURES, INC., BERKLEY, STALKER BAITS, GENE LAREW TACKLE, B & B PLASTICS, GAG'S GRABBERS, and N.E.H. TROPHIES donated products for the camp. WELLINGTON LEISURE PRODUCTS donated 12 new, high quality life jackets and CANDLEWOOD BAIT AND TACKLE of Danbury donated all of the live bait used.
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