Sharon Space-Bamberger | Democrat
Jared Hellerer, 11, of Swan Lake shows off the pickerel he caught at the Liberty Elks Youth Ice Fishing Contest.
Youngsters enjoy ice fishing countywide
Stories by Sharon Space-Bamberger and Kaitlyn Carney
By Sharon Space-Bamberger
SWAN LAKE For thirty-seven years, the Liberty Elks Lodge 1545 has sponsored a Youth Ice Fishing Contest. On February 2nd, Swan Lake was swarming with boys and girls ages fourteen and under.
Fathers, mothers and grandparents had fun with their kids. Elks trustee Daniel Clark was delighted that his four grandchildren, Jared Hellerer, 11, Corrine Hellerer, 9, Kelsey Goldsmith, 5, and Brystol Goldsmith were all out on the ice. Said Brystol: “I’m three and a half!”
All of the children hoped to catch the biggest fish or at least a fish. No worries, every child received a prize and the kids who won awards for the big fish got first pick of the prizes.
Early rising Elks had augured the holes and everything was ready when the young anglers arrived. A bonfire, hot chocolate and coffee invited people to warm up. Jimmy Green, Bill Smith and other volunteers provided an endless supply of hot dogs. Elks Dan Clark and Victor Vonkampen took hot dogs to those on the ice. The huge pot of clam chowder Milton T. Ratner and Billy Weston made in the Elks’ kitchen was popular too.
The children were fascinated with the tables loaded with prizes, some donated by local merchants and others purchased with monies from the Elks “Youth Fund.” All of this was free, and each child received a prize. All the kids had to do was have fun.
In 2007, the annual Elks event was renamed “The Liberty Elks Keith Hamlin Memorial Youth Ice Fishing Contest” in honor of Keith Hamlin, a Liberty Elk who died in January of 2006. The Hamlin and Yager families have volunteered in the Liberty Elks Youth Ice Fishing Contest since its inception in 1976.
The children’s fish were carefully measured by Liberty Elks Members. The winners in the pickerel division were: Cascio Fracasse with a 21" pickerel, Avery Conklin with a 21” pickerel and Wade Banell with a 20"pickerel. Winners in the perch division were Josh Knack with a 12” perch, and Christopher Goble, with a 11" perch.
Liberty resident Darren Johnstone received a special award for a 15” pan fish.
Cliff Hamlin, an original organizer of the Elks Youth Ice Fishing event, said, “For the Elks it’s all about the kids. We need to get them active in outdoor sports, too many of are indoors on the computer.”
BEAVERBROOK ROD & GUN CLUB
By Kaitlyn Carney
YULAN The Beaverbrook Rod and Gun Club hosted their 2013 Children’s Ice Fishing tournament on Washington Lake in Yulan. Participants and organizers were excited to be back on the ice after having to cancel the 2012 tournament due to unseasonably warm weather and lack of ice.
The free event invites children to learn about the sport, enjoy the great outdoors, and compete for great prizes. Sixty children turned out on a beautiful sunny day to jig or use tip-ups in hope of snagging the biggest fish of the day.
Charles Kaese, the Youth Committee Director for the hunting club organizes all of the events that help introduce students to hunting, fishing and the outdoors. This year Beaverbrook hosted a team of ice fishing professionals, including John Riley from Glen Spey. Riley and his team were 2007 National Champions and travel to compete in tournaments throughout the country.
Riley is also a New York State licensed fishing guide. He helped to get HT to donate great prizes for the competitors and also showed them some new skills on the ice.
“This is my passion and my favorite way to fish,” said Riley. “It kept me out of trouble and it’s nice to put a smile on these kids’ faces. To be out here with Beaverbrook, to teach the kids jigging techniques and show them the underwater world with some of our cameras, it’s really great. Today is all about these kids.”
With Riley and his team setting up tents with underwater cameras, children could watch fish take a bite at their line!
James Hanson of the Beaverbrook Club hosts the event on Washington Lake. “It’s a great family day. This year we had HT donate bait and prizes, which was fantastic for the kids,” said Hanson. “We also have the professionals showing them techniques and demonstrating equipment. We aim to give them one good experience when they’re young, and then they continue to return to the outdoors when they are older.”
Children of all ages participated in the contest, enjoying hamburgers, hot dogs, and hot chocolate at the close of the event. Everyone received a prize, with top choices going to the top four finishers. Nate Fountain of Sparrowbush finished first with a 25-inch pickerel, while his cousin Cody Schreibel of Yulan finished second. Rounding out the top four were Cassidy Grundel and Kate Tamplin.