Kids reel in fun at Gilford fishing derby

Union Leader Correspondent
June 03. 2018 7:27PM
Young anglers and their families rim the pond at Gunstock Recreation Area in Gilford on Saturday in hopes of landing a fish. (Bea Lewis/Union Leader Correspondent)

Laconia’s Jesse Bourn, 13, holds three brook trout he landed at the 15th annual Kainen M. Flynn Memorial Fishing Derby on Saturday at Gunstock. (Bea Lewis/?Union Leader?Correspondent)

GILFORD — The hooks were flying and the ducks did a fine job of staying clear during the 15th annual Kainen M. Flynn Memorial Fishing Derby on Saturday.

Several hundred kids and their families had the pond at Gunstock Recreation Area surrounded and were busy practicing the art of patience. Parents and grandparents pitched lawn chairs. Some settled in to watch, others joined in the fun and wet a line of their own.

There was plenty of talk about the art of fishing, about how to read the water and reel the line. And about how the sport teaches patience and discipline and steers kids away from trouble.

But for David Jernigan of Lee, fishing is about spending time with family in the great outdoors.

“More kids need to be doing this. It’s a great learning experience. It brings back memories of how I was brought up,” Jernigan said as he watched his three sons, Will, 7, Matthew, 9, and Chris, 13, fish.

“Even if you don’t catch anything it’s never boring being in the outdoors,” he continued.

As the hours passed, some older kids stood transfixed, watching the water for any movement that might signal a bite and the time to set the hook. Others were fascinated as a trout came flopping out of the water.

Austin St. Pierre, 14, of Ashland, has been coming to the derby since he was a toddler, according to his mom, Melissa Hatch. He landed a big fish Saturday afternoon much to the delight of his three siblings.

His family had made a day of the event, and his father and paternal grandmother could also be found pond side. They planned to eat the colorful rainbow trout.

The weather proved ideal. A cloudy sky prompted the fish to bite and a slight breeze kept the bugs at bay.

“Three brookies and five sticks,” said Ryan Bourn of Laconia, when asked whether he and two of his four sons had caught anything.

Jesse Bourn, 13, attributed their success in landing both fish and sticks with keeping his line near the bottom of the pond where the water remained the coldest.

While the derby is free to participants, money raised via food sales, a silent auction of sporting memorabilia and a raffle benefits the Gilford Police Relief Association.

Gilford Police Chief Anthony Bean Burpee said the association annually funds scholarships for local kids. The association also partners with the Gilford School District and buys Christmas gifts for families in need.

“It’s fun seeing families come back year after year and have a good time,” he said.

The fishing derby is a lasting legacy of Gilford Officer Kainen M. Flynn, an avid sportsman who loved the outdoors, who lost his life on June 4, 2003, after falling from his boat on Lake Winnisquam doing what he loved — fishing.

During his time with the Gilford department, Flynn was very active with local youth and often volunteered his time with any activities that involved kids. The local department, other law enforcement colleagues, his family and friends, continue to keep his spirit and love for the Gilford community and its youth alive by holding the annual fishing derby in his honor.

Fittingly, some of the youngest kids landed the biggest fish. Claudia Foss, 3, caught a 15-inch trout that weighed 1 pound, 5 ounces. Kaityln Percy, 14, caught the largest tagged fish that was 14¼ inches long and weighed 1 pound, 1½ ounces.

OutdoorsFishingOn the WaterGilford

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