Catching Fun at the Fishing Derby

-- by David Winer

Sycamore Islander, September 2002

If you didn't get down to the Island on Saturday morning, August 10, you missed something special. As soon as I entered Fishing Central (the screened porch of the clubhouse) there was a genial banter going on... everyone joshing each other about fishing. An array of nifty prizes and placards set out on a table spoke volumes about the preparation that George and Shelley Malusky and their kids, had made for the event.

Arriving at the 8:30 start time, I noticed that a lot of folks were already out fishing. In spite of the fact that the Derby was billed as a contest, the fishers on the porch were quite relaxed about getting out to the river. Maybe it was the doughnuts and coffee.

Kent Halstead and I partnered up as I prepared my rig. Kent waited good-naturedly while I struggled to tie on a new leader with a humongous deer-hair top-water "fly" about an inch and a half long. I explained that my quarry was the huge lunker smallmouth that we know are out there, but rarely see. Kent graciously didn't laugh. We proceeded upstream in a canoe, I in the bow casting wildly to both sides as Kent did most of the paddling. This arrangement had all the earmarks of the classic guide providing his "sport" with an entertaining outing. When we reached the rocky area half a mile upstream it was time to let my partner get in some serious fishing.

The water was unusually clear so that we could easily make out the boulder structure of the river bottom. The big ones just had to be there! Kent used his spin casting outfit, offering a shiny little spinner. We cast everywhere, over and over, concentrating on the deeper holes. We anchored. We drifted. At least the conditions were perfect: no wind, no heat, no humidity, no current, no bugs. And no fish.

There were other Islanders out on the river. We could even see that some were catching fish. Eventually, we both had a few strikes and even managed to bring in a few small smallmouth to the boat. We decided to measure one of Kent's just in case no one else had luck with big fish -- ten and a half inches -- not even a keeper. Even with all this effort and so little results, we had to agree that this was a great day on the water. We were having a wonderful time out there.

When we got back to Sycamore, I was amazed to see all the fishing activity going on. Fishermen, fisherwomen, and fisherkids occupied all three docks. They were having pretty good success too.

I made the rounds with a camera to record more of the action...