Something's fishy around here

| 22 Feb 2012 | 08:24

Annual Small Fry Trout Fishing contest draws crowd, By John Church NEWTON — At least 220 children faced 1,200 assorted trout at the Small Fry Trout Fishing Contest held at the pond on the campus of Sussex County Community College in Newton on Saturday. The contest was sponsored by the Sussex County P.B.A., Local 138 for children 13 and under. “We were able to put in an extra 200 fish in addition to the usual 1,000,” said Scott King of the Newton Police Department, who was working as master of ceremonies for the eighth year. In what seemed like less than a minute after the starting signal, Sierra Slate of Vernon landed the first fish earning her a prize of a new bicycle. “This is the best day of fishing I’ve ever had,” she said. Contest rules prohibited lures. PowerBait, a man made scented product resembling Plah-Doh, was being used by the more successful competitors. One fishing family had a secret weapon when it came to bait — Cheerios. “If the fishing is a little slow we will switch from worms to Cheerios so the children will at least catch a few sunfish,” said Judie Kiederlinger of Lafayette. “The Cheerios can be bait for fish or snacks for us. The only trick is keeping the children’s worm-soiled hands out of the bag we are snacking from.” There were two check-in stations set up to keep track of the day’s catch. “I enjoy seeing the kids have a good time,” said volunteer Joe Capp of Newton as he measured and logged in fish at his station. Capp supported the event by making a donation to have a 29-inch trout stocked into the pond. “I’d like to see the surprise on the face of some young contestant when they land that fish.” Bigger is not always better according to the other check -in station volunteer Ron Smith of Newton. “Smaller fish taste better,” said Smith. “Fish from colder water also taste better.” The contest was celebrating a 50-year anniversary. The Smith family has a long history with the competition. “My father, Frank Smith, was one of the two original judges at this contest,” said Smith. “We have a good crowd today but it was even more popular years ago. Now kids are off playing other sports. Back then the only summer sports were baseball and fishing.” By 8:40 a.m. 220 children were registered with more signing up. The children’s contest ran from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Prizes were awarded for several categories including first fish landed, largest fish and the most fish. By 10:40 a.m. the largest fish landed was a 19-inch brown trout. Door prize numbers were called at regular intervals and the winners could select from a wide variety of gifts. An adult contest was held Sunday from 6 a.m. to noon. A $20 donation helped cover the cost of stocking the pond.