Saturday was a fishing day in Lake Leclerc

The sweltering heat didn’t stop 73 youths from participating in the 2022 Fishing Derby at Leclear Lake Park in Edwardsville on Saturday.

Hosted by the Edwardsville Department of Parks and Recreation, prizes were presented for the largest, largest, smallest, and first fish.

The event was sponsored by BJ Printables and Sonic Drive-In, who made cherry limides available to all of the young fishermen. The participating youth also received a gift bag.

“We do this event to help kids learn how to relax,” said Tracy Keane, who was a volunteer at the event. “They can enjoy the outdoors in a friendly environment.”

After obtaining safety and fishing tips from a representative of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), the participants fished and trapped the fish for about an hour and a half.

Jay Near of Greenville took home the trophy for catching more than 70 fish, the most that day.

“I hunted competitively for four years,” he said. “The secret is my bait, I use wax worms.”

most fish
Jay Near – 76 fish
Garrett Sanders – 50 fish
Daultyn Gudgel – 46 fish

Biggest fish
Carson Watts – 24 inch
Walt Lask – 22 inch
Wheel Lac – 20 inch

first fish
Landon Bush – 9:30 AM

Nair has won other hunting competitions before and has tips for would-be hunters.

“Don’t feel bad about any equipment you’re using. My first rod was a $5 rod my dad bought on Facebook Marketplace. The most important thing is to go out and fish,” he said.

His friend Daultyn Gudgel, also from Greenville, took home the third place prize with 46 fish caught. Gudgel has spent his whole life and spends every weekend fishing at his grandmother’s pond.

“Since I grew up fishing, it’s just something I enjoy, especially with my family,” Gudgill said.

To prepare for this event, Edwardsville Parks and Recreation has partnered with IDNR to offer free fishing lessons to youth in Leclaire Lake Park from July 18 to July 22.

“This week of lessons and the derby has been amazing,” said Troy Offert, IDNR representative. “We’ve taken the kids away from the screens.”

Brian Coleman brought his two sons, Aiden and Dean, to the event from Glenn Carbon.

“I haven’t fished since I was 14,” Coleman said. “Bringing my kids to do it here was so much fun. They’ve only fished three or four times in their lives, but they love it.”

Dean Coleman agreed with his father’s statement.

“I will definitely be here again next year and I hope to start fishing more regularly,” he said.

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