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1,200 anglers chase the 'big one' at Pa. trout derby

May 08, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The boys peered over the stone wall to the Conococheague Creek below, where they swore they saw "the big one."

That "big one," if they had caught it, would have meant $1,600 for the boys in the ninth annual Chambersburg Noontime Lions Club Trout Derby over the weekend.

Twelve fish between 22 1/2 inches and 25 1/2 inches were dumped into the creek in preparation for the event, Committee Chairman John Nogle said. Of those 12 fish, the biggest one that had been caught earned Chris Theimer of Chambersburg the payout, he said.

The smallest fish, caught by Ted Nesbella, who lives near Johnstown, Pa., paid $2,000, Nogle said.

About 200 area businesses sponsored fish, totaling $29,000 in prizes available for the record-setting 1,200 participants that headed to a 5-mile stretch of creek this weekend, Nogle said.

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"We had people coming from New York, Ohio. We had some people from Florida, some from South Carolina. Everywhere," Nogle said.

Two-thousand trout from Greenspring Trout Farms Inc. of Newville, Pa., are put in the water and 645 are tagged, Nogle said. Corporate sponsors were Dilly's, Waste Management, M&T Bank and Wal-Mart of Chambersburg.

Ken and Carol Sacolic of Blandburg, Pa., visited the trout derby for the fourth year, where Carol Sacolic lamented not catching a tagged fish Sunday.

"My husband always catches, though. He's the lucky one," she said, adding that it's become a slight competition between them.

Mike Scheaffer of Chambersburg caught a fish tagged for $25 in his third year at the derby, a chance, he said, to "just get out of the house and have fun."

"It's more funner getting out in fresh air," said Tyson Beecher, 11, of Pleasant Hall, Pa.

"It beats sitting at home," said Tyson's uncle, Trey Helman, 17, of Fort Loudon, Pa.

They joined a small group of friends and family, who laughingly grumbled about catching only a few $25 fish over the two days.

When a reporter shouted "How's the fishing?" to Brandon Hockenberry of Fort Loudon, who standing in the creek below, he looked up with a smile.

Disappointing, he said, while acknowledging that could change as he cast his line toward where his friends were pointing to "the big one."

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