OWENSVILLE – The littlest angler hooked the biggest fish.
Lilly Sunday, 22 months old, caught a 5.97-pound catfish to the take the prize during the Clermont County Park District’s annual Matt Maupin Memorial Fishing Derby May 12 at Pattison Park.
“It was a great day, exciting to see so many kids out here fishing,” said Steve Statman, President of the East Fork Bass Anglers. “We had 80 kids registered – which is up from last year – and it was amazing how fast they started catching fish.”
In fact, the first fish of the day came in five minutes into the two-hour competition. The first of three albino catfish (and four other tagged fish) came in at the six-minute mark to earn special prizes.
“I don’t remember the last time we had so many tagged fish caught,” Statman said. “I don’t think we’ve ever had more than one albino. That was pretty neat.”
In addition to her lunker, little Lilly – who weighs only 30 pounds herself – landed three other fish to win the 7-and-under age group for total weight with 13 pounds. Alex Richey, 12, took the overall title for most weight, catching eight fish that totaled 17.58 pounds.
Isaiah Adkins took biggest fish (4.32 pounds) in the 8-11 age group, while Connor Sunday won most weight with 9.91 pounds. In the 12-15 age group, Athena Black took the biggest fish at 4.63 pounds.
On the other end of the scale, literally, Mason Dobbratz snagged a .03-pound bluegill for the smallest fish prize.
Jenna Daniel won the 11-and-under casting contest in a playoff, while Elaina Greg won the 12-15 division.
The Park District, Bass Pro Shop and Hamilton Bait Shop provided prizes. The Park District also provided hot dogs, snacks and drinks for their hungry guests.
“This is a great event for the kids,” Statman said. “It gets them outside and out from in front of a screen. Some of the younger ones, if it’s their first time, they might be a leery of baiting a hook or holding a fish they’ve caught, but you can see by the end of the day they are having a lot of fun.
“A lot of outdoor activities are dying out, but we want to keep this one going. Once you get the kids out here and put a pole in their hands, there’s almost an innate appreciation of nature that kicks in for them.
“You don’t have to be athletic to fish. You don’t need any special skills or any super-expensive equipment. You just need to be able to go outside and enjoy the water.”
Mark D. Motz is the Community Relations Manager for the Clermont County Park District. A native Cincinnatian, he has worked for more than 25 years as an award-winning journalist and public relations professional. Away from work, he enjoys photography, theater and spending time with his nine godchildren.