Big fish, big bucks surface at annual Trout derby

May 05, 2003|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - For the previous five years, Donald Uglow had been angling for a winner at the annual Chambersburg Noontime Lions Club Trout Derby, but failed to land the big one.

The top fish eluded him this year as well, but for the first time he reeled in a tagged fish good for some prize money. By Sunday, he'd netted five more worth a total of $175.

"This is the only year I've ever caught any tagged ones. I'm making up for lost time," the 47-year-old Fayetteville, Pa., man said as he checked in another trout in a parking lot on West Loudon Street.


He was one of the 1,112 fishermen and women who registered for a chance to catch the $2,000 fish or any of the other 473 tagged brown and rainbow trout worth $25 to $500.

"We usually come up with a gang of guys," said Robert Hahn, 54, of Hanover, Pa. This year it was about 10 fellow anglers who came Saturday and stayed overnight for the two-day tournament.

This year's tournament attracted trout fishermen from across Pennsylvania, as well as Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Ohio, Georgia, New Jersey and New York, according to the registration list.

John Bodner of Erie, Pa., and John Rhoades of Cleveland caught $575 worth of fish between them. Altogether, 327 of the tagged fish were caught and the club paid out $12,275.

"We paid it out the last two years and we'd like to pay it out this afternoon," Lions Club Treasurer Dave Mummert said of the $2,000 top prize after writing out another $25 check. The club was offering $19,850 in cash for tagged fish.

The luck and skill of the anglers have a lot to do with how the club fairs, but Mummert estimated it would clear $12,000 to $15,000 for area charitable causes and about $10,000 of that will be used locally to benefit the club's primary work - providing eye exams and glasses to those who cannot afford them.

The club only sponsors two of the fish - the top prize and a $500 trout - and those are paid for by pledges from club members. The top trout, for example, is paid for by 40 members who pledged $50 each.

Although they are not plastered with decals like a NASCAR racer, the fish are sponsored by 137 area businesses, with one backing 20 trout. By mid-afternoon Sunday, two people had reeled in $200 catches from the four-mile- long stretch of the Conococheague Creek running through Chambersburg.

"The businesses, they're really the ones that make this event work," Trout Derby Chairman Vic Pierson said of the sponsors.

Ken Hornbaker of Chambersburg pulled in the fish with the biggest price tag of the tournament, a $500 trout caught beneath a bridge near Wilson College. He and his 10-year-old son, Trent, have made the tournament a father-son outing for several years.

The big catch and the accompanying $1,335 went to Dennis Rapsky of Central City, Pa., for a 231/2-inch specimen that weighed in at 4 pounds, 12 ounces.

"That's a big trout," Mummert said.

"I'd rather be lucky than good," Rapsky said as he was handed the $1,335 check.

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