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Susan LeBar | Democrat

Austin Zweck of Liberty caught this 4 lb., 2 oz., 19-inch long bass at Saturday’s derby. Zweck earned first prize for catching the large bass.

Dozens of kids have fun, catch fish at
Federation’s annual ice fishing contest

By Susan LeBar
TUSTEN — February 2, 2010 — As participants gathered on Saturday morning at Crystal Lake in the Town of Tusten for the annual Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs of Sullivan County’s Free Youth Ice Fishing Derby, they noticed a mirror-like lake, felt frigid temperatures and smelled the wood burning on the campfire.
And they knew they were in it for the day of fun with ice fishing.
The Federation has been hosting the free Youth Ice Fishing Derby for more than 14 years and every year the event becomes more popular with adults and children. The event is held on Crystal Lake, a part of the Ten Mile River Boy Scout Camp in which the Scouts donate the lake for the day to the event as well as ATVs and their buildings that house the many refreshments for participants.
This year however, the event was in jeopardy of possibly being cancelled due to freezing temps and a cold wind that came across the lake. However, the organization felt they would try the event and see how many people showed and to their great surprise more than 70 kids and their parents showed up to participate. 
“We are very happy with the turnout today. When we got here it was 1 degree and I think now it is up to 13 degrees,” said Kay Danchak, who is one of the event’s organizers. “We had a lot of people call us to see if we were still having it and we decided we would give it a go. The lake has little snow on it and it is like walking on glass, so we are watching everyone as they are out there because we do not want anyone getting hurt.
“The kids amaze me they are out there and they are fishing,” Danchak continued. “We take turns bringing kids in so they can warm up near the heater and the fire and we take them back out. The kids are really having fun and it is a great turnout for us despite the cold temps.”
Carl Lindsley, a member of the Ten Mile River Boy Scouts, was on hand to help out and enjoy the day out with the families.
“It is very cold out here and the ice is slick, but we are keeping a close watch on everyone,” he said. “I was one of the original founders of this event and I don’t remember it being this slippery and cold for this event in a very long time.
“I enjoy being out here and it is great seeing the kids catching all the fish. And to be honest, they are holding up their fish today and it is funny because most of the fish are frozen solid as the kids hold them up,” Lindsey added with a laugh.
One of the top fish caught during the event was by 12-year-old Austin Zweck of Liberty. He caught a 4 lb., 2 oz., 19-inch long bass which he was proudly showing off to everyone he could.
“I caught a really big bass here and I like it,” Zweck said.
“It was worth coming out in the cold to catch this fish. Look at him, he is huge,” Zweck added with a smile.
Zweck was able to keep his fish to have it possibly mounted due to the club obtaining special tags for bass for the event.
The event organizers noted that the event would not have been possible without the support of the many volunteers of the Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, The Sullivan County Democrat and the Ten Mile River Boy Scouts, as well as the many businesses that donated food, bait and prizes to the event. Those businesses included Fur, Fin & Feather Sport Shop, The Tool Box, The Barryville Sportsman and Lang Industries.
All of the children received a prize for participation and were treated to a vast array of refreshments during the day courtesy of the Federation.
In addition to Zweck, other winners of the day included 11-year-old Kevin Puerschner of Jeffersonville, who caught a 1 lb., 4 oz. 12 1/4-inch long perch, 6-year-old Jacob Yager of Grahamsville, who caught a 4 lb., 3 oz., 24 1/2-inch long pickerel and Bruce Gettel Jr. of Lava, who caught the smallest fish, which was 6 inches long, on a jig pole.

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