MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ - Colleen Parliman, vice president of the Newark Baith and Fly Casting Club (NBFCC), along with about a dozen volunteers of New Jersey's oldest fishing club welcomed children of all ages to the annual fishing derby at Echo Lake Park on Saturday. The derby runs for three weeks and ends on May 6th, with awards  presented to the winners in June. 

Parliman is the daughter of the late Fred Bercaw, past president of the club. She expected between 250 and 300 registrants before the end of the day, noting approximately 150 boys and girls from the area were signed up for the derby well before noon, many she said, from Mountainside and Westfield. 

Before the start of the derby, about 300 trout from the Musky Hatchery were tagged and released into lower Echo Lake.  According to current NBFCC president Bob Jones, approximately 125 trout measure 15 to 23 inches in length.

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To help raise funds to pay for larger as well as additional trout, the club offers a “Sponsor a Trout” program.” Jones noted that sponsors can include individuals as well as corporations. He said, “This year, Ponzio's Landscaping of Scotch Plains sponsored three 23 inch trout in memory of a beloved relative, Matthew Ponzio, who enjoyed fishing at Echo Lake Park.”

Last Saturday’s opening day for trout season delighted anglers of all ages, as earlier in the month, The Division of Fish and Wildlife stocked Echo Lake with rainbow trout from the Pequest Trout Hatchery. 

Even if the fish aren’t biting, spending some time at Echo Lake Park is a splendid way to enjoy a lovely Spring day.