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Trout Derby offers big payoff for right fish

May 07, 2000|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Despite the intensive efforts of more than 1,000 people, a fishy character with a $2,000 reward on his tail remained at large Sunday, much to the delight of the Chambersburg Noontime Lions Club.

The trout topped the list of the Ten Most Wanted Fish Saturday and Sunday at the Third Annual Chambersburg Noontime Lions Club Trout Derby. For the club members who put up the reward money, it was just as well the fugitive was on the loose.

"The $2,000 fish is still swimming," Lions Club member Dick Blackshire told Club First Secretary Jon Jones at 4 p.m. Lion Harold Jones said about half the club's members put up $50 each to post the reward for Trout No. 401.

He, or perhaps she, was not the only fish with a price on its head, according to Jon Jones. There were 137 tagged fish in the tournament, out of 2,800 the club and Chambersburg Rod and Gun Club dumped into the Falling Spring prior to the derby.

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Jones said 130 bore tags worth $100 to anyone who reeled them in, and there were a few $500 fish along with the Big Catch.

Joe Ditosti of Altoona, Pa., sweated out an unusually hot May weekend with his son Joe Jr. "It was rough. ... I bet I caught 100 fish," he said.

Only one of those, however, was a money winner, a limp trout he and his son took to the Lions Club tent Sunday afternoon and reclaimed for $100. Ditosti said he'd learned about the tournament while at another fishing tournament in Port Matilda, Pa.

"That's a tagged tournament, too," Ditosti said. He got on the Internet to learn more about the Lions Club event.

Jon Jones said the search for the $2,000 fish took place over a seven-mile stretch of the Falling Spring.

It was a profitable search for 17-year-old Benjamin Slusher of Chambersburg. He hooked a $500 fish sponsored by the Shook Home and a $100 fish sponsored by Future Vision. Eleven-year-old Todd Stewart of McClure, Pa., nabbed a pair of $100 fish, Jon Jones said.

Area businesses put up the money for the tagged fish, according to Harold Jones.

Jon Jones said the youngest prize winner was Nick Holt, 8, of Shippensburg, Pa., who reeled in a $100 fish sponsored by Roofing and Insulation Inc. of Chambersburg.

Some fish that weren't tagged also had a bounty on them. Lonnie Leggett of Boonsboro landed a 24-inch Palomino trout that was worth $1,150 as the largest trout caught in the tournament.

Registration for the event was $10, but 460 participants paid an extra $5 for a chance at half the money raised for catching the biggest trout, said Lion Robert Zeis.

Eighty-two of the tagged fish were caught, according to Jon Jones, who said the club had paid out $10,350 in prizes.

The total prize offerings were about $18,000, so the less tagged fish caught, the better for the Lions. Zeis said the club was hoping to clear $10,000 from the tournament to spend on its charitable work.

"We buy a lot of eyeglasses and eye exams for people in need in Franklin County," Blackshire said. During the past nine months, he said about $5,500 had been spent to help people with vision problems.

Jon Jones said the tournament may generate enough money for the Lions to buy a portable eye screening machine to test preschool children for vision problems.

Zeis said one family had come up to the club's tent at the Southgate Mall Sunday to thank them for providing eyeglasses for their daughter.

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