"He taught me everything I know about fishing," she said of her father. The first day of the trout season and the derby are a father-daughter tradition, she said.
Tournament Chairman Dean Martin said 1,321 anglers from as far as Colorado and Florida signed up with the hopes of their fish tales coming true, paying up to $23 to register, plus an extra $5 if they wanted to take part in the Big Trout Contest.
At 3 p.m. Sunday, Evan Graff of Elkland, Pa., was feeling a bit nervous. With four hours left in the derby, he was leading the competition for the biggest trout with a 24 3/4-inch, 7-pound, 10-ounce beast in a cooler possibly worth a cool $1,900.
"I had three different people trying to net it. It took quite a while to bring it in," said Graff, a veteran of the 2006 derby.
"I just hope it holds up," Graff said, who also hooked his trout near Wilson College at about 2 p.m. Sunday, using a salted minnow for bait.
It did, edging a similarly gigantic trout caught by John Brodner of Chambersburg.
"We had 18 monsters in the stream" tagged for the biggest fish competition, Martin said. Altogether, there were 629 tagged trout worth from $25 to $2,000 let loose in the creek for the fundraiser with $28,000 in payouts available, he said.
More than $18,000 in prizes were paid to anglers, including Eugene Keckler of Chambersburg, who caught a $1,000 trout, according to organizers.
"We've been told it's the best trout derby in the nation," said Lion Ed Heckman, who came up with the derby idea a decade ago.
This year, one lucky contestant had a shot at a $25,000 prize in the Lucky Trout Contest, Martin said. A drawing was held and the winner got a shot Saturday at netting the trout from a tank filled with 100 fish.
Gregory Brown of Chambersburg did not net the right fish, but got a $250 consolation prize, Martin said. The Lions bought insurance for that contest, he said.
Registration fees, Big Fish and raffle tickets, and food and souvenir sales were expected to net about $26,000 for the Noontime Lions Club and its charities, Martin said. One collector's item is sure to be the 1,500 T-shirts with Lions misspelled as "Loins."
"We have a new club salute," Heckman joked.
Charities and projects benefiting from the derby include $4,500 for vision examinations and eyeglasses for Chambersburg residents; $5,700 for Lions Club International and state projects; a $1,000 scholarship for a Chambersburg Area Senior High School graduate; and money for 17 other local charities and projects.
"We couldn't do it without the businesses," Martin said of the approximately 160 sponsors for the event.
"The whole community benefits," said Heckman, noting that anglers stay in hotels, eat at restaurants, shop at sporting goods stores and contribute to a number of good causes.
"The fishermen get a great weekend of fishing and get paid for their efforts," he said.