ORANGE, NJ — Awards for the Essex County Youth Fishing Derby in Monte Irvin Park in Orange earlier this month were handed out to a male and female for First Fish Caught, Most Fish Caught and Largest Fish Caught. The winners included Tyler Tolson and Alice Wang for first fish caught, Tyler and Charles Tolson and Cimora Weston for most fish, and Weston and Charles for largest fish.

The derby gave children the chance to spend time with family, enjoy the great outdoors, and experience all that Essex County parks have to offer in a friendly competition to catch the first, biggest and most fish within two hours.

“Our fishing derbies are an excellent opportunity for our children to enjoy the historic Essex County Park System in a different and fun way," Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo said prior to the events. "You’ll have a great time creating your own ‘big fish’ stories and spending some quality time with your friends and family in some of the most beautiful parks in the area."

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Beginning on April 14, 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. Some of these locations included Branch Brook Park in Newark, Grover Cleveland Park in Caldwell/Essex Fells, Weequahic Park in Newark, and ending at the Essex County South Mountain Recreation Complex.

The Monte Irvin Park event saw a count of about 30 fishers.

“[What I love most about the derby is] seeing the children learn and have fun catching fish,” said special programs coordinator Frank Gesumaria. “We usually get an average of 30 fish caught every year.”

The Tolson family has participated in this event every year, and often reels in the most fish.

“It’s fun and I enjoy doing it with my family,” said sibling Charlayia Tolson.

The derbies were sponsored by the Essex County Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs, and were free and open to children ages 15 and younger. Events were held in seven locations in the Essex County Park System thanks to DiVincenzo and the Essex County Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs.

This article was written by West Orange High School student intern Josh Baker.