There have been members of the Mahoney family at every Children’s Trout Derby for the past 50 years.

They were there again this year, fishing at the Milford duck pond on North Street in honor of their father, grandfather, brother, uncle — Bob Mahoney, the derby founder, who died a week before the 50th annual event.

The Children’s Trout Derby, sponsored by the Milford Striped Bass Club, started 50 years when Bob Mahoney teamed up with local businessman Pete Hebert.

Mahoney grew up in Milford, and one day he was driving by the pond and thought it was a shame that no one was fishing there. So he went to Pete Hebert at Hebert Jewelers and they each put up $50 to stock the pond and organize the fishing day for children.

With 120 fish released into the Milford waters, the two men expected a couple of dozen kids that first year. Instead, 300 children showed up, and that was the start of it all.

The numbers have ebbed and flowed over the years, as more sporting events have competed with the trout derby. Still, both the upper and lower duck ponds were lined with children and their family members fishing on Saturday morning. There were also games, a raffle, and a casting contest.

Next year’s derby could be in trouble financially as co-chairman Jennifer and Shawn Lalond, along with the club, work to find an additional sponsor to help pay for the derby.

The cost to run the annual derby is about $13,000. About $9,000 goes toward stocking the pond, and the rest goes toward expenses like banners, trophies and prizes. Much of the funding comes from private donations, said the club’s president, Jim Pritchard.
This year, derby organizers learned that one of their big sponsors will no longer help fund the event.

Jodie Szarmach, Bob Mahoney’s granddaughter, is confident the derby will continue and funds will be secured. The family directed that donations made in Bob (Robert) Mahoney’s name following his death be directed to the derby.

And Szarmach said she is talking to the Striped Bass Club members about other fundraisers, including selling trout derby bumper stickers.

She and other Mahoney family members said they have faith the derby will continue, and they plan to be there for years to come.

Anyone interested in helping to fund the annual derby may call Lalond at 203-671-9545, email her at poolshark442@aol.com, or send donations to Milford Striped Bass Club, P.O. Box 103, Milford CT 06460.