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From left, Don Heinitz and Tim Kurdupski of Feather River Trout Unlimited Chapter 905, greet young anglers under the FRTU tent next to the Graeagle Mill Pond early May 18. Photos by Ian Hoffmann

Annual kids derby held at Mill Pond

Seven-year old Triptyn Pierson catches what appears to be the first fish of the day!

Many families showed up before the sun at the Graeagle Mill Pond for yet another successful junior fishing derby put on by Feather River Trout Unlimited Chapter 905 on May 18.

The mountain mist hung low and thick over the water, with temperatures in the mid-30s and snow in the forecast, and the recently planted 1,500 pounds of rainbow trout, known as large brooders, jumped enticingly in front of the eyes of anglers of all ages.

Tim Kurdupski, event organizer and longtime local, enthusiastically joined his fellow chapter members in greeting excited children bundled up in coats, hats and gloves against the freezing temperatures under the Trout Unlimited tent near the Mill Pond.

“This event is something that we do for the kids once a year,” Kurdupski said with a smile. “We’ve done this event for almost 20 years now, and we couldn’t do it without the support we get from the community.”

Members of Trout Unlimited gave out free fishing gear to those who needed it, with kids grinning as they carefully brought the rods and reels to the edge of the water, many for their very first try at angling. “We look forward to this every year,” said one attendee.

Feather River Trout Unlimited would like to give special thanks to the many sponsors who bring this event to life each year, including the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for stocking the Mill Pond, and Graeagle Land and Water Company for the use of the pond.

Trout Unlimited also thanked Plumas County Fish and Game Commission for donating funds for fishing rods, Mountain Hardware in Blairsden for fishing poles, Graeagle Frostee for donations of bait and tackle, Graeagle Millworks for providing food and drinks for attendees, the Sports Nut in Chester for donating rods and reels, the Graeagle General Store for donating bait and the Graeagle Outpost offering hot cocoa for chilly children.

“Without their support, FRTU could not do this fishing day at the Mill Pond,” Kurdupski said.

Fish leap and create ripples on the misty pond, with well-bundled families braving the chill to have an outdoor experience.
Dad Shane Buechler attends to bait and tackle with 9-year-old Jett by the Mill Pond, ready to catch some rainbow trout.
Jamie Richardson, age 4, closely examines his fishing pole while Hajulellah McKenzie, age 5, is pretty in pink, excitedly declaring that it is her first time fishing.

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