Anglers cast eyes on Early Bird tourney prize


April 02, 2002|By Debra Taylor Young | Debra Taylor Young,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

WITH THE full moon shining brightly and only a thin layer of clouds visible, hundreds of anglers lined up at the gates of Piney Run Park in the pre-dawn hours Saturday to participate in the 20th annual Early Bird Fishing Tournament.

More than 500 anglers entered the park at 4 a.m. to find the best fishing spot in hopes of snagging a share of $20,000 in prizes. Many chose to fish from the shoreline while others used boats. More than 100 boats were launched onto the lake. All anglers had to wait until the 6 a.m. announcement to begin casting their lines.

With high cash prizes at stake, park manager Loren Lustig took every precaution to ensure participants adhered to tournament rules. He enlisted the help of the state Department of Natural Resources, which provided two officers for the event. Lustig and his staff, with members of the Maryland Recreation and Parks Association, co-sponsors of the event, checked all boats for proper equipment and inspected all "live wells."

Rick Lawson of Sykesville and two friends recalled winning a $900 cash prize last year and were optimistic that they would be successful again. Optimism was prevalent among many of the participants.

In the past - dating to 1976 - one fish was tagged with a value of $10,000. The $10,000 fish was caught the first year but not since then. To increase the odds of winners this year, 15 fish were tagged for a cash prize of $1,000 each.

Any catch had to be alive when weighed and measured. Many anglers rushed their catches to the weigh station throughout the morning, even if it meant running several hundred yards from the shoreline.

The leader board had several categories for prize fish, such as largest fish caught from shore, largest fish caught from a boat, largest fish in category and tagged fish. The board continually changed throughout the tournament.

But as in past tournaments, the final half hour proved disappointing to many as they were bumped off the board by anglers who had made the most of their fishing time by preserving their catches in portable live wells.

Participants ranged from children through adults, men and women, boys and girls. Everyone had a chance to catch a prize fish, according to Lustig, who has seen children as young as age 6 win the trophy fish.

Two tagged fish were caught that morning but neither brought the $1,000 award. One was an undersized tiger muskie that was illegal to possess, according to the rules, and had been tagged in a previous tournament. The angler was cautioned and the fish immediately returned to the water.

The other tagged fish, a yellow perch, also had been tagged for a previous tournament, and yielded a $100 cash prize for Tricia Mutchler.

At noon, all participants in line at the weigh station were allowed to weigh their fish. Latecomers were turned away. Lustig announced the winners of the tournament, who accepted prizes ranging from $100 to $800.

Carl Traenkner and Joe Blair of Sykesville caught the trophy fish, a channel catfish. The fish weighed 6.38 pounds and was 25 inches long. The two friends took home a check for $800 and the tournament trophy, saying their catch was the result of a group effort, and the prizes would be shared.

Bingo nights

Gamber and Community Fire Company offers bingo at 7:30 p.m. today at the fire hall. Doors will open at 5 p.m. Early bird games will begin at 7:15 p.m.

The fire hall is at 3838 Niner Road. Information: 410-549-1510.

Sykesville-Freedom District Fire Department will offer bingo at 7:30 p.m. April 11 at its new smoke-free hall, 6680 Sykesville Road.

Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. Food will be served from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Information: 410-795-0295.

Debra Taylor Young's southeast neighborhood column appears each Tuesday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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