STEVENSVILLE — Saturday, Sept. 14, marked the Kids Fish Free Derby, hosted by the Kent Island Elks, Lodge 2576, in Stevensville, and the Natural Resources Police Reserve Officers. The KI Elks and NRPRO have combined to host the event for 16 years, mostly through the efforts of past Fishing Derby Chairman Kevin Kelly, who is a member of both groups. Kelly officially stepped down as chairman last year, and his brother, Past Exalted Ruler Mike Kelly, served as event chairman this year.
Prior to this year, the fishing derby was always held on the 4th of July, except when the 4th fell on a Sunday, and then it was moved to Saturday, July 3, to honor the Sabbath, and not tempt children and their families to miss attending church services.
The event was moved to September this year as it was determined too many volunteers would be out of town for the July 4th holiday. The KI Elks didn’t want to cancel the event, so the later date was picked.They hope to return the event to July 4th next year.
The children who came with their parents had the same provisions as in the past: free use of fishing tackle, if they didn’t have their own, and free bait.
The derby began at 8:30 a.m. and ended at 11 a.m. Following the contest, as results were being tabulated, a free hot dog lunch with chips and soft drinks for all who came was provided by the KI Elks.
Kevin Kelly was honored prior to the awards being presented to the children He was presented a plaque for his 15 year of service as event chairman. The plaque was presented by KI Elks member B.J. Tomardy, who said, “This plaque comes from the team of volunteers who followed your leadership for the past 15 years.”
It is estimated that Kelly provided an opportunity for nearly 2,000 local children to have a healthy outdoor experience fishing, and he always promoted for the children through the Elks and NRPRO to stay away from drugs.
The following are the results from this year’s derby:
Ages 3 to 6
Smallest fish — Quinn Di Russo, 5 3/4 inches
Largest fish — Coulson Houser, 12 inches
Most Caught — Quniton Polcok, 2.
Ages 7 to 10
Smallest fish — Dominic Weathens, 6 inches
Largest fish — Olivia Redgraves, 6 9/16 inches
Most caught — Ben Link, 6.
Ages 11 to 15
Smallest fish — Tyler Ratzow, 6 inches
Largest fish — Peyton Weeks, 6 1/4 inches
Most caught: Henry Ball, 22