North Branch Derby Continues Custom of Family Fishing

Photos and Story by Rick Hiduk

(Exclusive to

More than 200 children were registered for the friendly annual competition conducted on May 18 by the North Branch Trout Derby Association (NBTDA). If it wasn’t a record, the fact that some youngsters initially had trouble finding a spot on the shoreline of the pond on the NBTDA grounds at Lovelton suggested that it might have been.

A morning chill gave way to brilliant sunshine as children one year of age to 16 vied for prizes for the most and biggest fish. The goal of organizers, nonetheless, is to preserve a time-honored tradition of families fishing together.

Participation is up every year,” current NBTDA president Joe Wruble reported proudly. The organization and the event rely solely on contributions from area businesses and the community, which have allowed for an expansion of the pond over the past decade, as well as the construction of a pavilion, a snack bar, and an observation deck jutting out into the pond.

Former NBTDA president Bruce Pitts related that he had brought his own children to the same location for many years and thanks the Poole family, who have owned the property for more than 60 years, for allowing the organization to reinvent a fishing derby run by Clesson Shotwell and Chuck Richter from the 1980s into the ‘90s.

In addition to the fishing experience, which begins with the youngest anglers on Saturday morning, extends to older youths at midday, and continues for children with special needs the following morning, numerous environmental and recreational organizations set up exhibits. A bouncy castle is available for kids who are done fishing, and a Chinese auction affords all guests opportunities to win a wide array of merchandise from local businesses and residents.

The success of the fishing derby has allowed the NBTDA to expand its recreational outreach to family members of other ages and interests. On June 1, NBTDA will conduct Woman in the Wild, an opportunity for woman to shoot handguns and hone their skills on an archery range with assistance from experts in both fields. A mentored youth pheasant hunt will be held in October. Details for all of the events can be found on the North Branch Trout Derby Association Facebook page.

Here are the official results from the May 18 derby, followed by numerous group and crowd shots from the event. Winners were defined by the length of the fish. Tie-breakers were determined by weight:

1-5 years

Cashton Crouse – 19 5/8

Elliot Campbell – 19 ¼“

Wyatt Macheska (above, with his father Mike of Dover, DE) 15 ¾”

6-7 years

Sophia Murwin (above, right, with Ricky Davis of Lawton) 20” (4 lbs)

Hunter Venesky 19”

Tyler Krogulski 18 ½”

8-10 years

River Morgan (above,front center, with family and friends from Dallas and Luzerne) 19 ¾”

Bentley Harvey 18 ¾” (3.2 lbs)

David Luthe 18 ¾” (3 lbs)

11-12 years

Zachery Parker 15 ½” (1.8 lb)

Damon Harvey 15 ½” (1.4 lb)

Brayon Jones 14 ¾”

13-16 years

Justin Reynolds 15 5/8

The NBTDA fishing derby would not be possible without volunteers, including parking attendants (from left) Rich Toole, Kenneth Slusser, and Greg Dewey.

Avery Howell of Mehoopany and his father Aaron look over the offerings of the Chinese Auction.

NBTDA kitchen crew members on Saturday included (from left) Mike Raymond; Barb, Jeremy and Bobby Lumley; Eric White and Eric Wruble.

10-year old Chase Krogulski of Harding reacts to his first big catch of the day with dad, Tony.

Sydney Kinney of Laceyville (right) holds up her first fish of the day. She was joined on Saturday by Montana Belcher (left) and Mikea McGowan.

Volunteers cleaning fish for derby participants included Steve (left) and Bruce Stankus.

Donnie “Duck” Robbins has logged at least 30 years measuring fish for derbies on the Poole farm. Here, he measures a prize winning fish caught by 7-year old Sophia Murwin.

Organizers of the May 18 and 19 event included (from left) NBTDA president Joe Wruble and past presidents Joe Kling and Bruce Pitts.

4-H member Adriana Pitts (right) hold a duck named Wess for Ayla Ellis to pet.

Not every fish caught was a giant, but that didn’t keep this fellow from smiling ear-to-ear.



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