By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – The fishing was catch and release, but participants took home memories, gifts and raffle prizes June 4 from the 29th annual Skip’s Fishing Derby held on the Bishop Park pier.
More than 200 children in two age groups, 5 to 8, and 9 to 13, participated.
Catching winning fish in the younger group were Cameron DeMaggio, Damian Harrison, Molly McMahon and Arianna Scamp.
Winners in the older category were Nicholas Fawley, Connor McMahon, Christina Talarico and MacKenzie Thompson.
For many participants, the sunny day let children, parents and grandparents continue family traditions, create new family stories and spend time together without the intrusion of electronic gadgets.
Members of the Wyandotte Roosevelt High School Bass Team measured catches after an angler cried “fish on.”
Event assistant and Wyandotte museum employee Andrea Kush said while fish were lured with worms and minnows, families were attracted by the chance to spend time together.
Jacob Sarnowski, 13, said he comes to the derby mainly for fun, but enjoys reeling in the fish that take his bait.
“When I come to a competition, I respect my competitors, but I come to win,” he said after pulling in a 12-inch silver bass using minnows and worms as bait.
Jacob McClellan, 11, of Lincoln Park, who caught an 8-inch rock bass, said the best part about fishing is the excitement of seeing his fishing pole bend downward.
His father, Mike McClellan, said the fishing derby is an annual event for them.
Repeat derby participant Clara Ensign, 9, of Woodhaven, who caught a rock bass using worms as bait, said she enjoys fishing with her grandfather, Al Ensign of Woodhaven.
“It is a big opportunity to have fun with your family and friends,” she said.
Al Ensign said he worries that the younger generation spends too much time indoors playing games and on the computer.
“The outdoor life may get lost in the future,” he said. “It is always nice to have events like this to bring kids out and introduce them to fishing.”
Cecilia McMahon, 11, of Howell, said the best part of the fishing derby was being with cousins she doesn’t get to see often enough.
Although she tried baiting her own hook, she said didn’t like the slimy sensation of putting a worm on a hook.
Her father, Kevin McMahon, said he loves taking his kids fishing.
“It’s a good time to get out and enjoy the outside,” he said.
He said he hopes to fish as much as possible this summer.
“The wife doesn’t want to hear that,” he said. “My dad liked to fish, so he got me going on it, and I’m passing it down to my kids and their cousins. It’s pretty neat.”
Christina Talarico, 10, of Belleville, who honed her fishing skill near Gladwin, caught a winning 19-inch fish two minutes before the end of the fishing derby.
“It was so exciting,” she said. “I couldn’t reel it in. My dad was like, ‘We need a net!’ and somebody came over with a net.”