Patience is key as kids reel in fish at annual derby

Aug 4, 2018

Julianna Howland was swimming in fish, as she managed to hook several along the shores of Mello's Pond. She had an aquatic friend to thank for her success: a lucky turtle.

“We had a lucky turtle,” said her grandmother, Sandy Howland said. “Every time he stuck his head up, she caught a fish!”

Sandy Howland has been attending the "Get Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs" derby since its beginning almost thirty years ago: First, with her son, Peter, and now with her granddaughter, Julianna Howland. She also worked for the Dartmouth Police with Sean Carter, who started the derby.

The lucky turtle helped Julianna Howland catch the largest fish by weight among the girls.

“Patience pays off,” Tom Rocha told his grandson, Andrew Chase, of Dartmouth, as they stood near Mello’s Pond.

A few minutes later, Andrew won a trophy for catching the third largest fish of any of the boys in the “Get Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs” derby on August 4.

“I caught three fish: Two big ones and a small one,” Andrew said.

It was his second year attending, and he was there with his parents, Mark and Stephanie Chase, along with his grandfather.

Thirty-six children participated in the derby, put on by the Knights of Columbus, a service organization affiliated with St. Mary’s Catholic Church and St. Julie’s Brilliart Parish, both in Dartmouth.

This was the 29th year of the derby, which was started by Sean Carter of the Dartmouth Police Department and has happened every year since then at Mello’s Pond, courtesy of the land owners Bob and Matthew Mello.

“You see a kid catch their first fish, it’s worth a million bucks,” said Ed Vivieros, one of the event’s organizers.

The free event provides bait for the young fishermen, along with snacks, drinks, and enough raffle prizes for each child to win. It’s also a tradition that families can look forward to each year.

Another childhood derby-goer who now brings her own child is Nicole Costa, the mother of Juliana Rivera. Costa said she grew up coming to the derby, starting when she was in kindergarten or first grade. Julianna, who has been coming to the derby for 6 years, caught the second most fish by count among the girls.

Sam Willey, 10, of Rhode Island, came to the derby with his father Pete Willey. Although it took a while to catch his first fish, he eventually caught three.

“I was like, finally! I caught a fish!” Sam said. “I love fishing.”

The Derby awarded trophies for the biggest fish, along with the most fish caught by weight and by number for each gender.


Largest Fish by Weight:

1. Lilla Mello

2. Jennifer Sturges

Most by Weight:

1. Juliana Howland

2. Lily MacKay

Most by Count:

1. Eva Murphy

2. Julianna Rivera


Largest Fish by Weight:

1. Ethan Charest

2. Jonathan Mello

3. Andrew Chase

Most by Weight:

1. Cody Raposa

2. Joe Bellavance

3. Nathan Coppellotti

Most by Count:

1. Aaron Charest

2. Tucker Wilcox

3. Christian Jesse