WEST ORANGE, NJ — The annual Essex County Youth Fishing Derby came to a close on Saturday, with the seventh and final contest taking place at the Orange Reservoir/South Mountain Recreation Complex in West Orange.

The derby gave local children the opportunity to spend time with family, enjoy the great outdoors and experience all that Essex County parks have to offer.

Starting on April 22, the event gave children 15 years and younger the opportunity to take part in a free-to-enter event of fishing and fun with their parents and guardians at various locations across the county. Some of these locations included Branch Brook Park in Newark, Grover Cleveland Park in Caldwell/Essex Fells and Weequahic Park in Newark.

Sign Up for E-News

Saturday’s event in West Orange saw a count of about 50 fishers, while the entire event wrapped up with 750 fishers participating since April. The event began at 9:00 a.m. and over the course of two-and-a-half hours, the kids wrangled in fish of many types and sizes.

“Throughout the system, we’ve been doing this for 14 years,” said Frank Gesumaria, who ran the event.

The derby also saw the return of defending champion Jenna Abraham, who caught four fish on Saturday and has also participated in Verona Park, Branch Brook Park, and Saddle River in previous competitions.

“My favorite part is catching the fish,” she said.

At the end of the derby, awards were handed out to the male and female of certain categories, such as First Fish Caught, Most Fish Caught, and Largest Fish Caught. The winners also had the opportunity to have their picture taken with Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo.

To learn more, follow the Essex County Park System on Facebook and Twitter @essexparks.