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Hooked on Fishing

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By Vince Luecke

Rainbow Pay Lake hosts annual derby

DERBY - The fish all swam away but the memories caught Saturday at a fishing derby co-hosted by the Hoosier National Forest and Rainbow Pay Lake may last a lifetime for nearly 100 young anglers.

It was the 13th year for the event, held for the past several years at the pay lake near Derby. Anglers caught plenty of panfish but whoppers were in no short supply as catfish and striped bass weighing up to 10 pounds were netted and then released.

Members of the Perry County Bassmasters returned to help anglers bait hooks, replace the occasional broken line and to net and weigh fish.

"We all get a big kick out of watching the kids," said James "Flash" Lawalin. Some members of the club have helped for years and now bring their own children.

Bassmaster Rick Pund and others egged anglers to give some of the largest fish a quick kiss before returning them to the water. Some like Laura Denoncour obliged. Others declined.

After the fishing poles were put up, a lunch of hot dogs, snacks and soft drinks helped fill anglers' stomachs. Awards followed for the most fish caught, biggest fish and the most accurate casting skills.

Community support and donations from local businesses allow the Forest Service to offer the event to children and teens through age 15 at no cost.

Chase Martin, 4, and his 6-year-old brother, Cole, began their day with a hug for Smokey Bear, who has appeared at the event nearly every year.

Some youngsters found the big black bear a little intimidating and stayed close to parents but others ran up to the icon who promotes forest-fire prevention.

Photographs of winners can be found on Page 8B of our print edition and in a slideshow on this site.