Chesterton Tribune



Fish tales abound at MS4 kids fishing derby

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They call it fishing--not catching--for a reason. The story of the annual MS4 Kids Fishing Derby at Porter’s Indian Springs Park this year is the story of the ones that got away.

Near the end of the competition Wednesday morning, three young anglers were tied for the longest fish caught. Two had reeled in 7.5-inch bluegills and one had nabbed a 7.5-inch crappie.

Around 10:20 a.m., with minutes of fishing time remaining, Lucas Anderson, 11, made a bomb cast of at least 25 yards and hooked into a nice bluegill. He wrestled the pugnacious panfish in with his rod tip held high, but the fish wriggled off Anderson’s hook just as he went to pull it up on shore. The bluegill flopped in the mud just next to the water, and Anderson was inches from scooping it up when it flopped just the right way and disappeared back into the weedy depths of Lake Pratt.

Was that cunning, cold-blooded worm gobbler the 7.75- or 8-inch specimen that would have taken top prize? Duneland will never know.

Such is the nature of fishing--and Anderson wasn’t the only young angler who learned that Wednesday. Joe Chiles, 12, reported a nice largemouth bass, approximately 15 inches, swiped at his bait and missed it early on in the competition.

Had Chiles landed that fish, it would have been the second largest fish caught in the Derby’s five-year history. A 17-inch bass took first place last year, following an epic battle where the brute tried to eat a small bluegill that was being reeled in.

Porter Parks Director Brian Bugajski said whoever’s catch was first determines the winner in the event of a tie. First place went to Brandon Jones, 11, second place went to Drew Pacilio, 12, and third place went to Anderson. Each winner received a new fishing pole and accessories provided by the Porter Stormwater Board, Chesterton MS4, and the Northwest Indiana Steelheaders.

All in all, more than 40 kids between six and 12 participated Wednesday. They caught a total of 11 fish, among them three species: bluegill, pumpkinseed sunfish, and black crappie.

Bugajski said they usually see 20 or 30 fish caught, but the action was slow this year.

Kids competed in two age divisions, and for the first time, no fish were caught by anyone in the six- to eight-year-old division.

Enrico Ortega-Chick, 12, was one of the many kids who didn’t fool any fish into biting.

He said he had fun, nonetheless, and looks forward to coming back next year.

The Chesterton Tribune asked Ortega-Chick why he thought the fish weren’t biting. “Maybe because of the weather, how it’s been changing so much,” he said, “and maybe a lot more people are coming out here, more than usual.”

Indeed, highly pressured water and cold fronts are two of any given angler’s biggest woes. Ortega-Chick couldn’t even fool them with his special technique of casting from the side for better distance.

“I think those were the two main things,” Ortega-Chick said. “The weather is always changing a lot, and it’s been cold.”


Posted 6/21/2019




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