Reeling in a winner at annual Junior Fishing Derby

Jul 22, 2023

It was a slow day at Mello Pond for young fishers at the annual junior fishing derby hosted by the Knights of Columbus.

The eager group of anglers ages 4 to 16 spread around the quarter-mile-long pond, all hoping to catch a winner.

Over 60 kids signed up for the derby, but only about 35 caught fish. However, many of the participants caught other pond treasures like, trees, lily pads and the occasional turtle.

Arabella Blackwell, a 10-year-old, at one point, was convinced she had the winning fish on her line. “I got one, I got one, I got one,” she yelled.

As she reeled it in, it quickly became apparent she caught the fishing line of the boy next to her. Blackwell did come back to get first place in most fish by weight. 

Another girl on the other side of the pond was thrilled to have caught a lily pad.

“At least I caught something,” she said.

Not all the competitors were unlucky, 14-year-old Andrew Chase caught a decent-sized fish early in the competition.

Olivia Rosas, an 11-year-old, caught a six-ounce yellow perch.

“It feels nice [to catch one] because it is my first time catching a fish, so it was surprising,” Rosas said.

Not too long after her catch, her family was fighting to get her and her brother Tiago’s fishing lines out of a tree, a common sight around the pond.

Julie Cote who came with her three children said she was just trying to keep it fun for her kids and make sure they didn’t get frustrated.

In past years some fishers caught as many as ten fish individually, but as John Viveiros, who brought his daughter, said, “It’s a slow day today.”

When the competition was over, the fishers and their parents were called over to the main tent where members of the Knights of Columbus awarded first, second and third place trophies for biggest fish, most fish and most fish by weight. Each participant could only win one prize. 

For the boys, Julian Yarmac caught the largest fish for the boys at 2.6 pounds, Hunter LaFlame caught the most fish by weight at 37 ounces and Caleb Benoit had the most fish by count with three. In the girls group, Sofia Catulo had the largest fish at 1.6 pounds, Arabella Blackwell had the most by weight with 14 ounces and three girls tied for most fish each catching one fish.  

The Mello pond has hosted the Junior Fishing Derby for 34 years, and organizer Ed Viveiros said he hopes it continues for that long.

The Knights of Columbus said they are very grateful to late property owner Bob Mello who first allowed the usage of the land and his son, Matthew Mello, who currently owns the land.

Viveiros, a member of the Knights of Columbus, started the fishing derby originally with the Police Athletic League as an offshoot of D.A.R.E. The Knights of Columbus took over the competition when Carter retired about nine years ago, maintaining the tradition for another generation of Dartmouth kids.