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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Fishin' In The Rain No Problem For Derby Kids

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Saturday, June 03, 2006

Eric O'Dell showed off fish that he caught with fishing buddy Mike Kruszyna at a June 3 Berkshire County League of Sportsmen-sponsored fishing derby.
Cheshire - Overcast skies and a steady cold rain did absolutely nothing to dampen the excitement of about a dozen North Adams youth who participated during a June 3 fishing derby sponsored by the Berkshire League of Sportsmen and the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition.

The "Buddy System"

Volunteers affiliated with the Adams Outdoorsmen For Youth assisted with the event held at Reynold's Pond. Experienced sportsmen paired up with youth pals and spent the day as pairs of fishing friends.

"Look at my fish, I got four fish!" said a clearly pleased Eric O'Dell, whose fishing buddy was league President Michael Kruszyna.

Eric intently scrutinized Kruszyna as Kruszyna pulled bait from a dirt-filled paper cup and then baited a fishing hook for yet another cast into the pond's rain-dappled surface.


Berkshire County League of Sportsmen President Mike Kruszyna
"I think you've got another one," Kruszyna said as Eric wrapped both hands around a fishing pole.

Wayne Tinney is the Adams outdoorsmen club president. The yearly league-organized derby is a favorite among community organizations and different groups with a focus on children have been invited to attend over the years. Groups such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters have ventured to the pond for the experience, Tinney said.

Weather Or Not, The Fishin' Goes On

"For some of these kids, it's the first time they've ever gone fishing," he said."This may be one of the few opportunities for outdoor recreation."

A dedicated group of Berkshire League sportsmen work tirelessly to make the derby something that the children can enjoy, Tinney said.

Weather has not led to a cancellation since the event began about eight years ago, he added.

"We like it when we have a nice day but we can't control the weather," Tinney said. "We've done this in real downpours and worse, and you know what? The kids have a good time no matter what. Look at them out there now."

"Sure I'll Clean That Fish"

A roomy pavilion with a roof and equipped with picnic tables provided a sheltered area for outdoor cooking and lunch. Volunteers prepare the food and share the meal with the young fishermen.

Fishing poles and bait are provided for the event.

"The kids come and they are supplied with poles, fishing equipment, and we have a nice lunch," said Tinney. "They go home with prizes and with whatever they catch, if they want it. We feed them all day long, and we even clean the fish for them."

Raindrops did nothing to deter derby participants at Reynold's Pond.


Meanwhile, back at the pond, Eric's sister Aubrey was celebrating another catch.

"I got five!" she called out. "I'm a good fisher!"

League volunteers stock the pond with trout just prior to the event.

Information about outdoor recreation was available for the youngsters to take home. Many of the derby volunteers are involved in numerous sports and wildlife groups and pursuits.

"A lot of us are certified instructors with the MassWildlife angler program," Tinney said, and noted that copies of a state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife booklet titled "An Introduction to Fishing: The Massachusetts Aquatic Resource Education Program Fishing Manual For Novice Anglers" were included among the materials the youngsters

Adams Outdoorsmen For Youth President Wayne Tinney
could take home.

NBCC staff member Natalie Cain arranged for transportation for the participants. The City of North Adams donated a public schools van for the trip, and Alex Daugherty, a Berkshire County Juvenile Court probation officer and active NBCC member, drove the van. Shirley Davis, founder of the UNO neighborhood organization, was a derby volunteer.

"Most of the kids here today come from UNO and Mohawk Forest [apartment complex]," Davis said. "We're a hardy bunch."

An Adams Outdoorsmen For Youth fishing derby is scheduled for Reynold's Pond on June 24.

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.
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