"Right place, right time, right spot," advised the lad, who was one of 75 local kids who dotted the shores of the pond for Secaucus' 17th annual Fishing Derby last Saturday.
Tyler's grandfather, Dave Keefe of North Arlington, complete with pole and fishing hat, mused, "It's a nice day to fish. It's a nice day to spend time with your grandchildren."
The weather was perfect for the annual contest, in which children and poles littered the shores of the Duck Pond off Metro Way. The kids were treated to free hot dogs and soda, and those who caught large or specially-tagged fish won plaques and fishing gear.
"A lot of fish are being caught," said Recreation Facilities Director John Schwartz an hour into the event, at 10 a.m. "So far we had a 19-inch catfish and a 14-inch bass."
Around that time, Shawn O'Brien, 9, of Huber Street School, was at the far end of the pond reeling in a wriggling 7-inch small-mouthed bass. His godfather, Keith Murphy, helped him place it into a container of water.
"Hold it like we showed you," Murphy instructed.
Shawn was there with dad Richard O'Brien of Secaucus and sister Genevieve O'Brien, 5, of Huber Street school.
Like three other parents at the event, Richard O'Brien said that the secret to catching fish was "patience." As a matter of fact, the fish that were caught - which were stocked by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Game - were not prizes in themselves, since none of the kids or adults planned to eat them. They all threw them back into the water after they were measured by staff from the town.
"It's gross," explained Alexi Lowther, 9, of the Clarendon School, about why she wouldn't consume any of the haul.
Lowther was there with her mother, Tina Orlando, and a family friend, Cathy Follo.
Orlando said that the event was good for kids like Lowther who need to learn patience. "Don't we all, though," Follo said.
Girls and boys
Girls were nearly as plentiful as boys at the event. Alexi said she often goes fishing with her father, Christopher Lowther, and her brother Joseph.
Nicholas Lang, 11, of the Clarendon school, said he'd probably be home watching Nickelodeon if not for the derby.
"I think it's wonderful," said his father, William Lang. "It's a nice day, they give the kids snacks, and the kids have fun."
For some, the best prize was a chance to spend quiet time in nature with their relatives.
Brian Meier, 6, of the Clarendon School, was there with his father, Andrew. Brian kept an eye on a large fish swirling under the water near their bait, but the fish would not bite.
"When they stock them, they feed them," Andrew Meier surmised.
John Veltri, 9, of Clarendon, was there with mom Kathleen Veltri. He had a pragmatic answer when asked the secret to catching fish.
"Worms!" he declared.
Recreation Director John Voli was pleased with how the day turned out.
"It was a beautiful day," he said later. "We had a nice turnout. One girl caught the most fish, Natalie Wong. She caught, I believe, 29 fish all together. We had kids catching 20, 25. A lot of fish were caught."
The derby ran for three hours, from 9 a.m. to noon. Then the Department of Recreation gave out prizes.
The award-winners were: Youngest participant - Ayden Smeyers, 2 years old. Smallest fish: Ryan Rand and Kayla Thomas, 5.3 inches. Largest catfish: Tyler Keefe, 19.5 inches. Largest bass: Cole Cinquana, 16 inches. Largest fish (other): Austin Masser, 14.5-inch carp. Most fish, Natalie Wong.