Donations come through to save annual trout derby

The annual Children’s Trout Derby has been saved.

Earlier this year, organizers of the fishing derby that attracts hundreds of youngsters to the city’s duck ponds for a one-day derby in the spring said money was running short and they might have to halt the 43-year Milford tradition.

But residents stepped up to the plate, heeding the call for donations, and the derby will continue, according to Milford Striped Bass Club President Bill Blotney.

The city’s Oyster Festival Committee was the latest in a string of organizations to deliver money to the Striped Bass Club. City Alderman Paula Smith delivered a check for $250 from the Oyster Festival, and that follows donations by groups like the Milford Harbor Duck Race and individual donors.

Smith was surprised when she walked into a meeting of the Milford Striped Bass Club because she didn’t realize there were so many members.

“The trout derby is a great event, and all these events are the little hidden gems in the city,” she said. “I never realized how much went into this.”

The event requires considerable planning. Members collect money for the annual derby, which costs about $5,500 to run. They organize sponsors and amass prizes for children to win by reeling in big fish. They buy the fish and stock the city ponds, and they organize a casting contest during the daylong derby.

Members also man the downtown duck ponds on derby day, helping youngsters and their parents who might need a few fishing tips.

The event has become a treasured memory for many Milford people.

Andrew Spears grew up in Milford and remembers fishing in the annual Children’s Trout Derby as a child.

Now finishing up his college education, he fondly recalls getting up at 5:30 a.m. for the start of the derby, the throng of children fishing, and getting his line stuck in a tree.

For the last 43 years, children and their parents have been collecting memories of the annual trout derby, sponsored by the Milford Striped Bass Club and the city.

Earlier this year, Blotney said donations were getting tighter because of the economy, and he predicted 2012 might be the last year for the derby.

Recently he said the funding has come in, even though letters seeking donations from regular contributors haven’t gone out yet. So he’s confident the derby is in good shape.

Hundreds of children usually line the edge of the city duck ponds on derby day, and they may even be found days later casting for the fish that hadn’t yet been caught.

People who want to donate to the annual trout derby may do so by sending checks to the Milford Children’s Trout Derby, c/o Milford Striped Bass Club, P.O. Box 103, Milford CT 06460.

For more information about the club, go to