Dozens Compete in Memorial Ice Fishing Derby
Susan Hallock | Democrat
TAYLOR WALL, WHO was one of the young anglers at Saturday’s event, and her mom Cynthia Capicchioni join several members of Jerry Sheppard’s family for a picture. Standing, from left to right, are Karen Smith, Jake Sheppard, Donna Hof, April Sheppard and Randy Sheppard.
By Susan Hallock
COCHECTON February 20, 2007 Jerry Sheppard loved kids and the outdoors.
So two years ago, he organized the first annual Forz or Mor Hunting Club Youth Fishing Tournament on Mitchell Pond.
More than 60 kids participated in the inaugural event in February 2006. This year’s event, which was held on Saturday on Mitchell Pond in the Town of Cochecton, proved to be even more popular as more than 79 kids participated.
When Sheppard passed away due to natural causes in September 2006, it was unclear as to whether there would be another Youth Fishing Derby on Mitchell Pond.
But with the determination of the Sheppard Family, the Forz or Mor Hunting Club and a lot of ice, it was decided the tradition Jerry Sheppard started would keep going as the Jerry Sheppard Memorial Youth Ice Fishing Derby.
“Jerry loved children and the outdoors,” said Randy Sheppard, one of Jerry’s brothers. “This was his way of getting the kids outside away from the television and appreciating what nature has to offer.
“Jerry would do anything for a child and this was his dream and whatever we have to do to keep his dream alive, the family and the club are committed to doing it,” Randy Sheppard added. “Today alone, we have over 50 volunteers here helping out and it was for the love of Jerry that this event is continuing.”
Carl Lindsley of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation took part in the event with a special friend, Brandon Rains.
“Jerry is and was a great guy and I was here last year participating in the ice fishing contest and it is a great event for the kids,” Lindsley said. “Having this youth ice fishing event in memory of Jerry is a great idea.
“Jerry would do anything for kids and I know Jerry is smiling down on us today because the sun is out and the weather is great, that is Jerry right here with us,” added Lindsley with a smile.
Rains, who was fishing with Lindsley, added, “This is a great day and a lot of fun. I have caught a lot of fish, including seven pickerel.
“And I am having a great time and I am already looking forward to next year’s event,” Rains said while smiling brightly.
Phil Grisafe, a member of the Forz or Mor Hunting Club, had his two daughters, Colleen and Vanessa, on the lake and they were having a great time.
“Today is such a great day, and Jerry has opened this pond up to the kids and I look forward to continuing the tradition of the youth fishing derby in his memory,” Phil Grisafe said. “This ice fishing event is all about the kids and to see them all out here today is just great. Jerry would be so proud.”
The members of the Sheppard family noted that the event would not have been a success without the help of the many businesses, organizations and individuals that donated prizes and food.
“We have the Sullivan County Long Beards, numerous volunteers and the prizes and food we have donated to this event have been awesome, we could never thank everyone enough for all their support,” Randy Sheppard said.
Winners of the events were:
Largest Pickerel a tie between Ethan Morgan and Chris Buchko, who each caught a pickerel that weighed 2 lbs., 11 oz. and was 22 1/4 inches long.
Biggest Crappie Taylor Wall with a weight of 14 1/4 oz.
Biggest Perch and the most fish caught Lea Houghtaling
Largest other type of fish Dan Dirks, who caught a fish that was 7 and 3/4 inches in length.
But there was a surprise catch of the day that no one was expecting.
“In August of ’06, Jerry had Kerintin Burr age 4, a niece to Jerry, out fishing on the lake near the inlet when Kerintin’s Barbie® pole went overboard,” April Sheppard said. “This year we had some fishermen out there and they caught a pickerel. However, when they pulled the pickerel out, they saw that the pickerel was tangled up in fishing line and a bobber. When the fishermen kept pulling, up came Kerintin’s Barbie® pole.”
The fishermen proudly returned the Barbie® pole to Kerintin, who was fishing at the youth derby.
Everyone who participated in the event went home a winner and proudly carried with them a prize related to ice fishing.