Arts & Entertainment

Warm Weather Lures North Plainfield Families Out to Green Acres Park for 46th Annual Fishing Derby

Fishing derby winners Kevin Harris (3rd place), Jaden Clarke (1st place), and Noah Cruz (2nd place).
First place winner Jaden Clarke.
Second place winner Noah Cruz and his grandfather John Chapman show off Noah's 12-inch catch.
North Plainfield Mayor Michael Giordano with members of the borough's recreation department and a representative with Texas Roadhouse on Route 22.
Merle Lockhart and his sons, Jonathan, 7, and Michael, 4, show off their 11 1/8 inch catch at the 2017 fishing derby.
Gabrielle Fitzgerald and her son, Ryan, 2.
Gabriella, 7, caught this small fish at this year's derby.
Members of the North Plainfield High School Junior Varsity Softball Team were on hand selling snacks and T-shirts.
This 4-month-old puppy, along with her owners, spent the day at the fishing derby and even got to take a dip in the pond.
Although a large catch, unfortunately for these North Plainfield residents it was a bass, not a trout, that got their hook.
Fishing derby winners Kevin Harris (3rd place), Jaden Clarke (1st place), and Noah Cruz (2nd place) with recreation department members and a representative from Texas Roadhouse.

NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – An overnight storm and unseasonably humid weather didn't deter North Plainfield families from taking part in the borough’s 46th annual fishing derby. Held April 29 at Green Acres Park, the Department of Parks and Recreation-sponsored event lured close to 100 young anglers 14 and under and featured a morning of family fishing fun.

“We had a really good turnout this year, especially with the storm,” said Roe Woods, assistant director of the Borough of North Plainfield’s Department of Parks and Recreation.

One of the longest running events in the borough, the fishing derby provided children the opportunity to catch a variety of trout. The pond was stocked with over 100 fish – including a golden trout – ranging from 8- to 20-inches, and prizes purchased by the rec department were awarded for the top three largest catches. Unfortunately, caught bass and sea turtles did not count. 

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This year’s top three winners of the largest trout received a trophy as well as prizes purchased by the rec department, including a kids-sized mountain bike, camera, fishing poles, sleeping bags, and other goodies. Congratulations to Jaden Clarke, who took in the largest catch of the day with a 17-inch trout. Noah Cruz, who caught a 12-inch trout, had the second largest catch followed by Kevin Harris with an 11 3/8-inch trout.

"The fishing derby was a very fun experience, and it was even more fun catching my fish,” said Noah, who participated in his second derby this year and took home a digital camera, a Mets hat, a trophy, a sleeping bag, a fishing rod, and a folding chair for his second place catch. “I like all the support and help I got from my family. I can’t wait for next year.”

Throughout the three-hour event, members of the North Plainfield High School Junior Varsity Softball Team were on hand selling snacks and T-shirts and representatives with the North Plainfield Education Association handed out free re-useable water bottles and information. Raffles were held for variety of prizes, including gift cards courtesy of Texas Roadhouse and baseball caps, soccer balls, footballs and more, courtesy of the borough.

Additionally, as in previous years, lifelong resident Mike Garcia donated bait and was on hand to provide any necessary fishing assistance.

A retired 20-year member of the North Plainfield Police Department, Garcia attended his first borough-run fishing derby 40 years ago. Back then, Garcia said, the borough would damn up the brook and the annual event sparked his interest in fishing. “I used to ride my bike to the park as a kid and fish my afternoons away. It helped me stay out of trouble,” Garcia said, adding that events such as the derby are ‘great for kids, offer an opportunity to be outdoors and provide families the chance to get together.’

Woods, who would bring her own kids to the derby when they were younger, agreed. “It’s a great way for the kids – and the adults – in the community to connect, get out of the house after the long winter, and see each other,” said Woods. “What better way to celebrate spring and get the kids away the electronics and back to nature.”

Lifelong resident Gabrielle Fitzgerald, daughter of Councilman Frank Righetti, grew up going to the derby and attended this year’s event with her 2-year-old son Ryan. “I came as a kid and it is something I continue to do now. This is a tradition and something my dad shared with us,” Fitzgerald said. “He always told us how important it is to do these in your town.

The 46th Annual Fishing Derby, said Mayor Michael Giordano, Jr., wouldn't have been possible without the support of the recreation department and those residents who came out.

“I am excited about the turnout this year and glad to see the previous night’s bad weather didn't deter families from coming out and enjoying the day,” said Giordano. “I want to thank the recreation committee for all their hard work in organizing the event and ensuring that it is a success, year after year. I also want to thank all the families, returning and new, who attended.”

For additional information about programs and upcoming events offered by the North Plainfield Department of Recreation, visit You can also follow the department on Facebook at

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