They were biting at the pond

| 22 Feb 2012 | 08:44

Big fish, little fish, weird fish, winning fish Augusta — Some 200 fans of the patient art of fishing gathered around the pond at the Sussex County Farm and Horse Show Grounds Saturday morning for the Sussex County Federation of Sportsman’s Clubs contest and to support North West New Jersey Community Action Program. Kayla Bak, 3, of Stockholm, and her father, Anthony, heard a tip that trout like sugar and they decided to use that information. “Today we are going to try using marshmallows,” said Bak. They had no luck catching trout but Kayla won a rod and reel outfit for landing a 13-inch bass. Different fish require different bait. Catfish are not exactly picky eaters and were biting at chicken livers and fish heads. Mackenzie Ehrman of Lafayette landed a 23.5-inch catfish using fish head bait. Federation volunteers say that fisherfolk have caught catfish, bass, bluegills and the occasional trout at these contests in past years. The most unusual was a freshwater eel one year. Another year, an 18- or 19-inch snapping turtle was hooked. The oddity this year was a 23.5-inch albino catfish landed by Ethan Schwartz of Frankford. “No, I’m going to eat him,” said Schwartz, when asked if he was going to release the fish back into the pond. At the noon stop time, officials tallied the winners while the children ogled the table covered with prizes. No one left empty handed. Those who did not win a prize were given a gift bag containing a bobber and a package of fish hooks. Reel prizes Prizes were awarded for biggest fish in five age categories. Three different species — bass, catfish and sunfish — were reeled in this year. As last year, the pond was not stocked so the experienced fish definitely had the home turf (pond?) advantage over the visiting contestants. Grand prize Cassidy Jameson, 25.5-inch catfish Honorable mention Ethan Schwartz, 23.5-inch albino catfish Winners by age group Ages 1-4 (all bass) Sarah Herther, 16-inch Hatlie Richardson, 13-inch Jake Henningsen, 13-inch Ages 5-7 (all bass) Deziree Conklin, 15.5-inch Tyler Presher, 13-inch Nick Kilano, 13-inch Ages 8-10 (all bass) Kevin Lott, 16.5-inch Frank Gieger, 13-inch Jessica Gieger, 12.5-inch Ages 11-13 Mackenzie Ehrman, 23.5-inch catfish Mark Smoler, 18-inch bass Stephanie Pierson, 14.25-inch bass Ages 14-15 Laura Hook, 16-inch bass William Caruso, 13-inch bass Participants were requested to bring a can of food to the event. The grand total of collections weighed in at about 150 pounds, said Wendie Blanchard of NORWESCAP.