WEST ORANGE, NJ -- The annual Essex County Youth Fishing Derby came to a close on June 18 with the last contest at the Orange Reservoir / South Mountain Recreation Complex in West Orange.

Starting on April 16, the event gave children 15 and under the opportunity to take part in a free-to-enter event of fishing and fun with their parents at various locations across the county.

“I grew up fishing, and I love the fact that this allows kids to join in as well,” said Montclair resident Jason DeLuca, who brought his children to their third derby.

Sign Up for E-News

The event started at 9:00 am, and over the course of two and half hours, a total of 65 anglers joined in, including the children of Kearny Township’s 2nd Ward Councilman Richard Konopka.  “We usually go fishing once or twice every week,” Konopka said. “Last week, in Branchbrook Park [in Newark, NJ], my two sons caught 28 fish each.”

“The best part of fishing is when you finally catch one,” said 7-year-old participant Liam Salcedo.  

The children had a wide variety of fish to snag, such as bluegill, catfish, crappie, and perch.

“We’ve been doing this event for about ten years now,” said Essex County Parks Department member Claudia Gonzalez.  “We give out plaques for the first fish caught by a boy and girl, and the most fish caught by a boy and girl in each age group.”  

The age groups in the event were ages 1 to 5, 6 to 10, and 11 to 15 years old.

(Editor's NoteJosh Baker is a student writer from at West Orange High School who is participating in a journalism program with TAPinto.net.)