On a drizzly day, families gathered at the Anthony E. Just Sr. Memorial Duck Pond on May 5 for Secaucus’s Annual Fishing Derby. Kids of all ages picked their spots around the 2.6 acre pond in the south end of town, with fishing rods out and buckets at their side, in hopes of catching the biggest or smallest fish for a prize.
“We had a really nice turn out,” said John Voli, recreation director.
Seventy-four children registered for the Annual Fishing Derby. Many girls and boys with parents or grandparents in tow lined the edge of the Duck Pond. Derby-goers ate 250 free hot dogs, some of which were used as bait.
“This is a tradition that my family has.” – Genevieve O’Brien
Voli said over 300 fish were caught, which surpassed previous years. The town stocked the fish pond with Bass and Catfish prior to the event.
“This was the best fishing derby ever!” said Mayor Michael Gonnelli. “The kids are so used to playing computer games. This brings them back out. The whole idea is to get out here and see the pond.” He said that he hoped children who enjoyed fishing during the derby will return to the pond to fish again.
Special family tradition
“This is a tradition that my family has,” said Genevieve O’Brien, who caught close to 30 fish. “I like that we are all here.”
“Spending time with my dad,” said 11-year-old Brian Meier about what he enjoyed most about the day. He has attended every fishing derby since his family moved to town nine years ago.
Other kids were out with their grandparents, like three-year old Reina Barth and six-year-old Adis Hozdic. Like a number of others at the derby, Grandfather Nat Connolly said he saw a flyer from school announcing the derby and said, “Let’s go!” He noted that the day was “fantastic!”
The big winner for the day, Simon Salinas, 9, caught a carp measuring 24.5 cm, which ended up being the largest fish, one of over 30 he snagged. His uncle George Berthel, who tags fish to track migration patterns as a volunteer for the American Littoral Society, said Simon used shrimp as bait. Others like longtime resident John Muran used bread, corn, and hot dogs to attract fish.
“I like going fishing,” said Gabriella Romanelli, 6.
Some residents came out to the fish pond for the very first time, including Tom Joehnk, who has lived in town for thirty years. He was out with his five-year-old son Ryan, who caught a Sunfish.
Litian Sun brought his six-year-old daughter Hanzhang Sun for the first time after two years in town. She wore a hot pink jumpsuit and sat on a rock holding a canister of neon green Crapple Nibble bait.
Frank Flanagan and Juan Tous were among Recreation staff that measured fish with a yardstick to determine the winners.
A number of children took home a fishing kit for winning in a specific category. Genevieve O’Brien won for the Largest Bass. Braiden Chokas won for the Largest Catfish. Kris Worthington won for Most Fish caught. Two-year-old James Pepi won for Youngest Fisherman. Savannah Kocerha won for the Smallest Fish, a 3.5 cm Sunfish. Simon Salinas won the big prize for the day a tackle box and fishing rod for the Largest Fish, a 24.5 cm Carp.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.