Kids show off their fishing skills in catch-and-release event at Caleb Smith...

Kids show off their fishing skills in catch-and-release event at Caleb Smith State Park Preserve

By Carole Paquette

Forty-six junior anglers caught a total of 182 fish at the Friends of Caleb Smith Preserve’s 19th annual catch-and-release Junior Fishing Tournament held on Saturday, June 10, at Caleb Smith State Park Preserve in Smithtown.

It was a clear day and the Park’s Willow Pond was active with geese, cormorants, turtles and a loud rapping woodpecker as the 46 jubilant young anglers pulled in all types of fish, examined, then released, them. A large colorful Rainbow Trout brought shouts of surprise and a winning trophy for its angler Hunter O’Brien, who had won a prize last year for catching the most fish.

Kevy Doring, 6, of Northport who was one of the morning anglers, was with his grandfather John Mikkelson. Within five minutes of the start of the tournament Kevy had caught two Panfish, one 7-1/4 inches, the other 8 inches. He eventually caught a third.

Co-chairperson Carol Tokosh said “The Junior Angler Tournament is a wonderful event to teach children how to fish and enjoy nature. It’s such a pleasure to see the smiles and reactions of a child when they catch a fish.”

Winners of the three trophies in the morning session, for those ages five to eight, were Christian McFarland, 6, of St. James, who caught 13 fish to win for Most Fish Caught; Dominick Ferrentino, 7, of St. James who won for Largest Pan Fish Caught, for his 8-3/4 inch Pan Fish; and Easton Hodge, 5, of Smithtown, won for the Largest Other Fish Caught, a 10-1/2” Trout.

Winners in the afternoon session, for those ages nine through twelve, were Arabella Siegel, 11, of Smithtown, who caught 17 fish, and won for Most Fish Caught; Ryan Liebold, 12, of Smithtown, won the award for the Largest Pan Fish Caught for his 9-3/4-inch Pan Fish; and Hunter O’Brien, 9, of Port Washington, won for the Largest Other Fish Caught, a 12-1/2 inch Rainbow Trout.

Several lotteries were held during the afternoon. Evelyn Folandro, 6, of Commack won a fishing rod and tackle box donated by the D’Agostino Family in memory of Mike D’Agostino who was one of the co-founders of the Friends of Caleb Smith Preserve, and a main contributor to the Junior Angler Fishing Tournament.

Carter LeHanka, 12, of Commack won the Fourth Annual Tom Troccodli Memorial Lottery and received a fishing rod and tackle   donated by the Troccoli family. The drawing was held in honor of the late Tom Troccoli of Smithtown who enjoyed fishing and accompanied his grandson at junior angler tournaments. Raffle donors included Camp-Site Sports Shop in Huntington Station, which donated two fishing rods, one for each session, and books about catching bluefish. Carmine Petrone, manager of the fishing department at Camp-Site Sports Shop is a familiar person at the tournament having been one of the judges during these years. Visors that looked like a turtle were also raffled off. Other donors included sponsor The Fisherman magazine which donated the worms, hooks and bobbers.

Robert McCormick from the Diversified Education Curriculum at Stony Brook University made up packets to be put in the goody bags that were given to each angler. The packets contained information about catching fish in New York and Long Island, as well as cards identifying fish that are caught in New York State. Caleb Smith State Park Preserve included information about the park and fishing. Also in the goody bags the Friends group included fun fish-related treats such as puzzles, and goldfish crackers

Tom Tokosh, co-chairperson of the tournament, said “It was a great day. Everyone caught a fish. See you next year.”