2017 North Ridgeville Corn Festival, Fishing Derby

A happy Bryce, ready to catch some fish

NORTH RIDGEVILLE, OH – The past few weeks, I had gotten the kids pretty excited over the upcoming fishing derby that takes place as part of the North Ridgeville Corn Festival.  The derby is ran by some of the nicest folks you could ever meet, the North Ridgeville Fishing Club.  While I had a great time last year (you can read that post here), I was especially excited for this year’s derby as my daughter was now old enough to participate.  With both kids eager to attend, and the idea of sharp hooks and only daddy supervision, I knew my wife would be joining us.  While my wife is deserving of a nice Saturday morning to sleep in, I was thrilled to have the entire family with me.  The fishing may not be of much interest to her, but the cabbage and noodles, chicken paprikash, or deep fried pickles that awaited us when the fishing concluded, surely did!

Alexis and mommy waiting for the ‘big one’

Expectations always remain low for me at any formal fishing event.  My luck just usually is worse, if there is any type of extra pressure to have success.  Today would be especially bad due to having everyone with me and the fact that I had hyped it up so much with the kids.  In the end, I know time together is priceless, but a 5 and 3 year old having fun and being content requires catching fish.  Today that meant having all the gear needed (and more), and prayers!

Mommy and daddy enjoying Alexis, fishing isn’t just for Bryce

Despite my best efforts, the first few hours were typical… doing everything to keep just enough bites going so the kids didn’t fade on me.  I eventually determined I would try one rod, still-fishing off the bottom, while they continued their bobber fishing.  This new strategy didn’t provide any instant result, but after about 30 minutes I saw the rod getting some action.  A slight bend, and I handed the rod to Bryce.  I was shocked to see the rod bend in half and Bryce suddenly yelled, “It’s too heavy!”.  Initially, I thought a fish had simply thrown the hook into a submerged log or got him wrapped around some rocks or debris.  But after he asked me to help hold the rod with him, I could feel the heavy fish fighting.  I encouraged him he could do it, and he reluctantly took full control as I removed my hand from steadying the rod.  When I saw the fish jump, I knew it was a trophy, and desperately hoped he would succeed.  Not just for him, but for all of us – we really wanted to see this fish!  I took up the net and it was funny how he yelled which way the fish was heading (even though I could see).  I can’t begin to describe the angst I had while he was fighting the fish and then the overwhelming joy when he successfully brought the fish in.

Bryce’s big bass, the largest I have ever seen come from a small urban lake

My already rather fun day, suddenly turned epic.  Now that it was landed, I became more aware of my surroundings and could hear everyone fishing around us shouting “what did he get?!”.  I responded, “A huge Largemouth!”.  I was so excited for him and it was truly a surreal moment.  I came to my senses fast enough to know I wanted some quick pictures, before sprinting with it in a bucket, to the judges station.  I normally let Bryce carry the fish – or fish in the bucket, but I left him trailing behind me.  I wanted this fish to live.  Bryce did catch up by the time the fish was measured (at 20 and a half inches), and the fishing club did a couple more photos.  As much as I wanted to admire the catch – and let everyone else and Bryce admire it too, it needed to get back in the lake.  A few back and forth motions in the water, and the fish strongly swam away into the depths.  The exact ending I wanted for a fish giving my family a lifetime memory.  I pray it does this again for someone else, with the same outcome.

Happy kids assembling for the awards ceremony

After the catch, there was about 45 minutes until the event ended.  We were treated to seeing the largest fish of the derby getting caught, a 26″ Channel Catfish.  Thankfully, the polite young man who caught it was in an older age group, or Bryce would have been devastated that his catch wasn’t the largest.  There were a lot of ‘parenting moments’ as he dealt with his own sense of accomplishment, while having to be excited and happy for someone else.  I can’t recall ever noticing his competitiveness as much as today, when he kept asking whose catch was better.

Derby winners and runner ups

Bryce’s catch earned him a new fishing rod combo and loaded tackle tray.  While everyone was enjoying the drinks and hotdogs provided by the fishing club, I sought out a boy that didn’t win anything.  Unbeknownst to Bryce, I gave away his combo.  He was given one last year, and at 5, didn’t have the maturity to understand the right thing to do.  I was happy to make this kid’s day, as he didn’t leave empty handed.  It got even better, when the adults with him said he didn’t have his own fishing rod until now.  This banner day, couldn’t have ended better.

A parting shot of the big fish

2016 North Ridgeville Corn Festival, Fishing Derby

CWF08132016derbyNORTH RIDGEVILLE, OH – The Annual Corn Festival for 2016 was plagued with rain and poor weather.  We were fortunate though, that Saturday morning’s kid’s fishing derby had near perfect weather, maybe even the best half day of the entire weekend.  I guess it’s just proof that God loves fisherman!  In all seriousness, I was pleased with the forecast and happy that Bryce woke up eager to go to the event.  The derby was organized by the North Ridgeville Fishing Club, some of the nicest folks you can meet.  My son and I have attended other events they have been affiliated with, and always have had a great time.  Today would be no exception.  I will say attendance was down for this event, I think likely due to impending late day weather, and a lot of people were cheated of a great day of making memories.

CWF08132016derby4Bryce stopped for a picture with Mike, who got no rest from my son all day

There was not a new stocking of fish for the event, and overall, the fishing was slow.  We did have enough Bluegill biting to keep us occupied and provided some fun.  We also were catching some crayfish which entertained Bryce more than fish.  My son ‘adopted’ a couple of volunteers, Mike and Karen, who got little rest as he would yell for them to come over regardless of whether we had a new catch.  They were good sports about it, and Bryce soaked up the attention.

CWF08132016derby5A Snapping Turtle that we somehow landed on 6# test line

The highlight of our rod and reel action was what I thought was going to be a nice heavy fish.  Bryce was manning the rod and it had a considerable bend, much bigger than the Bluegill we were catching.  As he reeled it in, it came into view and I could tell it was a Snapping Turtle.  I used the metal rod holder to hoist it onto shore to get a few pictures, before letting it head back into the water.  It was Bryce’s first turtle catch and quite the surprise!

CWF08132016derby6Bryce wins a fishing pole!

CWF08132016derby2One happy and very proud kid

When the whistle sounded ending the event, Bryce had caught the most fish in his age group.  This earned him a cool new blue Zebco fishing rod.  The only thing that had his attention more than the crayfish, was this new prize.  He was super excited and made sure everyone heard all of his fishing stories from the day.  He needs to work on being humble, but that’s a tough concept at 4 years old.

CWF08132016derby3All I can say about this group photo is, “yep, that’s my son”

There were plenty of group photos where Bryce posed appropriately, but the photo above cracks me up.  Like a conquering hero, this is how he wanted to hold his new rod.  Amongst his 4 year old peers, I do somehow think he convinced them the rod was even more awesome – because of how he held it.  My next big catch, I think I’m going to strike this pose with the rod, after the release.

CWF08132016derby8Bryce with Keriann (from the Corn Festival Committee), reviewing an ODNR fish booklet

It was a day well spent with my son, catching crayfish, fish, and even a turtle.  We won something, ate some good festival food, and made new friends.  A big thank you to the North Ridgeville Corn Festival Committee (Corn Festival Website) and the North Ridgeville Fishing Club (NRFC Website) for the great time!  If there is a fishing event on the schedule next year, we will be there!

Passport to Fishing Program with N.R.F.C.

With the recent move to North Ridgeville, we didn’t know our community had an annual festival.  Fortunately, a co-worker let me know about the Corn Festival this past week and that it was happening this weekend.  Having a 4 month old and an almost 3 year old keeps me from being spontaneous with plans, but when I saw something called “Passport to Fishing Program” on the festival schedule, I knew I had to check it out.  Bryce likes anything fishing related, and is up early every day, so a trip to the park at 8:30 a.m. on a beautiful Saturday morning was easy to talk him into.

CWF080914signinAt sign in, it was clear Bryce’s attention was elsewhere

I learned that the Passport to Fishing Program was facilitated locally by a group called the North Ridgeville Fishing Club.  The program consists of various stations that the children move through that teach a variety of fish and fishing related topics.  I was worried Bryce might be a bit too young to have the attention span necessary, but the gentleman from the club were very patient and gracious in their dealing with him.  It was obvious that this group collectively had plenty of experience raising children!

I think pictures will tell the story better than words, so here are some highlights;

CWF080914groupBryce getting some instruction on casting

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESInstruction on reeling

CWF080914brycedaddyDaddy helping reel in ‘the big one’

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESCongratulations on the catch, high five!

CWF080914knotsTime to learn how to tie a fishing knot

CWF080914knots2Daddy helping, probably making things worse?

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESBryce wanting to do it himself

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESBryce getting a congratulatory handshake

CWF080914swagA fishing pole, T-shirt and other gifts, Bryce in shock!

I want to express my sincere appreciation to the North Ridgeville Fishing Club for giving Bryce and I such a great memory.  Not only were they fantastic at sharing their knowledge, they had personalities and senses of humor that made the event a lot of fun.  Additionally, a good number of the photos in this post were taken by them, what a pleasant surprise to get pictures of Bryce and I together.  If this group is reflective of what others are like in North Ridgeville, it is another reason to say we made a fantastic decision on where to live!

If you have time, please stop by the Facebook page HERE for the N.R.F.C., and like them!