Bryan's Fishing Camp 2001

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BRYAN'S FISHING CAMP 2001
Ray Kerchal

August 13-17 was the best week of the summer in more ways than one! That was the week Bryan's Fishing Camp was held at the Girl Scout Camp on Candlewood Lake in New Fairfield, Connecticut. Forty-four children, ages 8 through 13, had been anxiously waiting all summer to attend the camp and to fish for bass from powerful bass boats. Thanks to our 41 volunteer boat captains, they were not disappointed. The temperature during the previous week had hit 103 with high humidity, but during the camp, temperatures were in the low 80s with little humidity. The fish also cooperated. Many bass in the 4 to 5 pound range were landed during the week and tournament weights on Friday were much higher than usual. There were more grand fish stories this year. Finally, this was the first year that we had a picnic for the parents, boaters and campers during the weigh in. It provided a really enjoyable atmosphere for everyone Friday afternoon. Stop and Shop donated all of the food and drinks.

On Tuesday, Cameron Blossom (10) from S. Royalton, VT and Bradley Clawson (9) from Bristol were fishing on Captain George Buck's boat when their lines apparently became tangled. When they reeled in, both had hooked the same 1 pound smallmouth bass. Wednesday was live bait day and everyone had alewives. This is done every year to insure that all of the campers have the experience of catching a bass. Candlewood Bait and Tackle donated 35 dozen alewives. Several of the campers in the "bass only group" said that they could not catch anything on the live bait, but brought in good fish they caught on artificial lures. Antonio Rivera (age 8) and Zachary Cortese (age 8) both caught brown trout weighing 5 to 6 pounds. They received special trophies for their non bass big fish, caught during the week. Ian Hutton caught a 5+ pound bass, coming in on the last boat Thursday evening. He was awarded a special trophy for big bass of the week.

At the awards ceremony on Friday, KJ Mehmet was presented with a new rod and reel for tangling with the 'smartest bass in the lake'. KJ is an advanced angler and is captain of the junior state team this year. He had several rods rigged with different lures and on Wednesday set one rod down with the tip hanging over the edge of the boat. A large bass took his lure and his rod and reel, leaving KJ stunned. At the presentation, Ray Kerchal described the bass showing off his trophy to the other fish.

Before the tournament trophies were awarded on Friday, Tom Reynolds, president of the Connecticut BASS Federation, was introduced by Ray Kerchal. Tom then presented a check for $5000 to The Bryan V. Kerchal Memorial Fund "from all of the members of the Connecticut Federation".

This was the first year that we had a tournament category for total weight for 5 bass (in Group II, bass fishing only). Ian Hutton took 1st place with 10.91 pounds and was followed by KJ Mehmet with 8.44 pounds and Greg Aiudi with 6.95 pounds. In the big bass category, Paul Cortese of Danbury won with a 4.22 pound bass. In Group I (all species of fish), the old record of 76 for most fish was shattered - 102! When Bradley Clawson was asked how he caught 102 fish, he said, "I used worms and I skipped lunch". 2nd and 3rd places went to two brothers. Ryan Laskowski, age 8, and Mike Laskowski, age 10, caught 61 and 60 fish. Cameron Blossom, age 10, from South Royalton, Vermont caught a lunker for 1st place, big fish in Group I. His bass was 4.82 pounds!

Bryan's Fishing Camp is sponsored by The Bryan Kerchal Memorial Fund. It teaches fishing techniques and an appreciation for the protection and preservation of our water and fishery resources. This is the fourth consecutive year for the camp.

The generosity of sponsors is always important for the success of Bryan's Fishing Camp. EVERCEL, INC was a major corporate financial contributor. At the conclusion of the camp, new participants all received a tackle box from PLANO and a bag containing hooks, soft and hard plastic lures, a knot book and other miscellaneous items. The advanced anglers, who brought their own fishing gear to the camp, received an assortment of hard plastic and wood lures including spinner baits, buzz baits, crank baits and top water baits. Additional companies donating products included LUNKER CITY, PLASTIC LURES, INC., BERKLEY, STALKER BAITS, DARTER BAITS, GARY YAMAMOTO CUSTOM BAITS, YAMAHA, GENE LAREW TACKLE, and N.E.H. TROPHIES. STOP & SHOP donated food and drinks and CANDLEWOOD BAIT AND TACKLE of Danbury donated all of the live bait used.

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