Bryan's Fishing Camp 1999

Tournament Winners


By Ray Kerchal

Bryan's Fishing Camp, held from Aug. 16th through the 20th on Candlewood Lake - Danbury, CT, was barely over before we started getting calls asking for spaces in next year's camp. The kids are obviously sharing their camp/fish stories with their friends. The logistics of the camp were managed by the Great Hollow Wilderness School, headed by Jennifer Buckley and Gail Null while Chris Bielert was in charge of the fishing program. We wish to express our sincere appreciation to all of the fishing volunteers, most of whom were from the CT Bass Federation, but also included volunteers from PA, NY, VT and MA. During the week, the volunteers with boats ran three and four shifts a day to make sure that every child was out on the water everyday. On Friday, August 20th, there were 19 boats for the camp tournament. We would not be able to run this program without the generosity of the volunteer boat captains.

This year we combined the day and overnight camp. There were 30 day campers and 10 overnighters. Also, Chris Tompkins, Guy Ouellette and Graham Close from last year's camp asked to come back as assistant counselors. The Great Hollow Wilderness School gave them a two-day counselor training course on the weekend before the camp opened. They had a great time and want to come back again next year. Also, we are developing a Level II program for next year for those youngsters who have mastered the basic fishing skills.

The first day of the camp provided orientation, classes and shore fishing. On Tuesday, fishing from bass boats began. Then on Friday, the kids had their tournament from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. A total of 22 trophies for big fish and most fish were awarded in two groups. 

The first place winners were:

Group A Big Fish: 1.79 lbs.  Caroline Traino, age 11 from Danbury, CT
Most Fish: 62 Tommy Boileau, age 11 from Middlebury, CT
Group B Big Fish: 2.97 lbs. Doug Santiago, age 11 from Middlebury, CT
Most Fish: 70 Brandon Harris, age 11 from Danbury, CT

There were many wonderful individual stories. One that stood out for us was Caroline Traino, who finished in first place for big fish and second place for most fish. After the awards ceremony, one of the counselors saw Caroline off by herself holding her trophies and smiling. He asked her if she had had a good time during the week. She answered 'today was the happiest day of my life. I am so happy I just want to scream but I won't because I don't want to scare everyone'. Then there was Ziggy who was not really sure that he wanted to come to camp the first day. His mother said that he was up at 6:30 am on Tuesday and couldn't wait to catch the bus for the camp. On Wednesday evening, after most of the staff had left, Ziggy brought his mother back to show her each spot where he had caught a fish from shore. On Friday, he took home a third place trophy for big fish. We can not wait until next year!

Our product sponsors came through in grand fashion again. ZEBCO provided rods and reels and PLANO donated tackle boxes for the children to take home. LUNKER CITY, DARTER BAITS, MCKALA LURES and WRIGHT & MCGILL provided tackle. NEH provided the trophy plates and THE CANDLEWOOD BAIT AND TACKLE CO. supplied us with live bait.

The camp is financed by the Bryan V. Kerchal Memorial Fund, which was set up to support and promote youth fishing. The fund was established in Memory of Bryan, the 1994 Bass Masters Champion.

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