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Trout derby nets record turnout

May 02, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Chambersburg hosted a derby of its own this weekend, but there weren't any jockeys, high-strung horses or speed records involved.

The Chambersburg Noontime Lions Club registered 1,500 people for its 13th annual trout derby, which was held Saturday and Sunday. The turnout set a record, with 200 more people fishing in the Conococheague Creek than in a typical year.

Proceeds totaling more than $20,000 will be used for various charitable opportunities in the community, according to John Nogle, the trout derby's chairman.

Each month the club provides funding for 12 to 15 eyeglasses and more than 20 eye exams for area residents, Nogle said.

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"In five years, this year included, we raised over $200,000. That's plugged right back into the community," he said.

The derby not only brings in money for the Lions, but also for some of the luckier fishermen. Of the 2,000 trout stocked in a five-mile stretch, 561 had tags that corresponded to prizes.

One tagged fish carried a $2,000 prize if caught. It was not.

The largest trout, which was 18 3/4 inches long, fetched $1,405 for Fred Neidig. The second-largest won $705 for Jamie Davis and the third-largest brought in $235 for Andrew Wunder.

Donna Jackson of Shippensburg, Pa., won $200 at a past derby. The catch this year didn't prove to be as fortunate, but Jackson was excited to participate again after living in Oklahoma for several years.

"I caught a trout yesterday, but it wasn't tagged," said James Burkhart of Shippensburg.

As rain tapped on the top and sides of the registration tent at lunchtime Sunday, Jackson, Burkhart and other participants huddled together to await the announcement of raffle prizes, including televisions and fishing gear.

Kenny Kohler of York, Pa., fished both days and caught a trout tagged for a $25 prize on Sunday afternoon. Kohler, who has participated in the derby for eight years, said a lot of the chances of catching trout depend on the conditions.

"That's the main part, how the water looks," he said.

Businesses stepped up with donations this year, despite economic strains, Nogle said.

"We were blessed," he said.

Participants came to the trout derby from New York, New Jersey, Maryland and West Virginia. One registrant was from Florida.

"The weather certainly helped. And word keeps spreading," Nogle said of the increased participation.

Volunteers from Cornell Abraxas would be tidying up along the stream after the derby's conclusion, Nogle said.

"We try to clean up the stream and thank the private property owners," he said.

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