By David Rogers. April 2, 2016. BLOWING ROCK, NC — He didn’t even have time to sit down, if he even wanted to with a chill wind blowing and the morning sun not yet peeking over the roof line of the American Legion Building.
On his first cast of the day a little past 7:00 am at Broyhill Lake, young Neahmiah Hamilton knew only boundless excitement as an 11″ Rainbow Trout jumped on his “whole kernel corn” bait. After reeling the fish in, Hamilton rushed it over to the 2016 Blowing Rock Trout Derby headquarters and turned it in for “first fish” honors — then his smile got even bigger when he realized that it was one of 15 “tagged” fish in the Broyhill Lake venue for “small fry” fisherboys and fishergirls, earning him a cash prize of $25.
All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News. See a SLIDESHOW of random images at the bottom of this article.
Not to be outdone, sister Emma Hamilton reeled in the second fish of the day at Broyhill, registering a 12″ Rainbow just 30 minutes later.
While young Hamilton was cashing in with one of five tagged fish turned in on the day from Broyhill Lake, there was a country-western theme over in Valle Crucis, west of Blowing Rock. Think: “Big and Rich.” Or maybe it was “Rich and Big” or “Rich Wins Big” or….
If you heard adult angler Todd Rich humming the Big and Rich country band’s classic romantic hit, “Run Away With You,” it would not have been surprising. After landing a 22-1/4 inch Rainbow over in Valle Crucis on the Watauga River, Mr. Rich sped over to tournament HQ at the Community Club to register the day’s whopper that didn’t get away. There were no witnesses to confirm that Mr. Rich puckered up and kissed his catch squarely on its snout after earning the Blowing Rock Trout Derby’s top prize.
A total of 67 High Country men, women and “small fry” fishin’ folks celebrated opening day of the 2016 trout season by registering their catches with Blowing Rock Trout Derby. Now in its 37th year, the even’s latest edition brought out even more — who either didn’t catch one or if they did, they didn’t register their catch.
It never ceases to amaze me what the kids come up with every year.
Started by a quartet of local Blowing Rock business owners (Earl Trexler, Jim Marsh, Carl Underwood and Elmer Jenkins) in 1979 as a way to encourage kids to learn to fish and create a family friendly outdoor activity, for at least two decades the event has been kept alive by a consortium that includes chair Kim Jenkins Rogers (Jenkins Realtors), Mike Calhoun (Bolick and Traditions Pottery), the Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority, the Town of Blowing Rock, and a host of sponsors, not least of which is the North Carolina Wildlife Commission. Although Rogers chaired the event, her two primary co-conspirators on the day were Blowing Rock’s Tom Shelly and Traditions Pottery’s Calhoun.
Each year the Wildlife Commission supports Trout Derby with free “Fish for Fun” bags for the kids, including a tackle box, regulation book, bumper sticker, stringer and bobber. Registrants also receive a free official event T-shirt that features the masterpiece created by the winner of the previous year’s Trout Derby Art Contest for elementary school students.
Bryan Chen, a second grader at Boone’s Hardin Park School was named winner of the 2016 art contest, which this year included a near record number of entries after Blowing Rock Art & History Museum and Blowing Rock News staged an earlier contest at Blowing Rock School in support of Blowing Rock Trout Derby.
Young Mr. Chen, a student of Hardin Park second grade teacher Mrs. Lisa Shaw, crafted his watercolor submission on Saturday, in the workspace set aside in the Community Club building.
“We had some outstanding entries this year,” art contest judging chair and local artist Lynn Jenkins smiled in reporting the results to Blowing Rock News on Saturday. “Some were very creative and a lot of fun, like the ‘free lip piercing’ sign on a dangling fish hook as bait.
“It never ceases to amaze me at what the kids come up with every year,” Jenkins smiled. “For example, we had a jumping trout with ‘hot lips’ (bright pink), and a golden trout swimming upstream in a yellow river. There was a caveman-looking fisherman and an elaborate waterfall. Many were terrific art, but with far too much detail that would get lost when the graphics people set up for next year’s T-shirt and event poster. Ultimately, we had to go not just with good art, but good, creative art that would have a strong visual impact on the T-shirt and poster. We felt that the selected winner met those criteria.”
Trout Derby Art Contest Winners
- 1st Overall — Bryan Chen, 2nd Grade, Hardin Park School, Boone, Teacher: Lisa Shaw
- 3rd Grade and Older
- 1st: Zach Presnell, 6th Grade, Blowing Rock School
- 2nd: Lindy Whittington, 5th Grade, Sherwood Forest School, Winston-Salem
- 3rd: Alixas C., 3rd Grade, Blowing Rock School
- 2nd Grade
- 1st: Bryan Chen, 2nd Grade, Hardin Park School, Boone, Teacher: Lisa Shaw
- 2nd: Ansel, 2nd Grade, Blowing Rock School, Teacher: Janet McGuire
- 3rd: Emmy Dickson, 2nd Grade, Blowing Rock School, Teacher: Mary Catherine Felts
- Honorable Mention: Silas Berry, Blowing Rock School, Teacher: Mary Catherine Felts
It’s about family fun, learning to fish, and enjoying the outdoors.
For the so-called “small fry” anglers, the thrill of fishing doesn’t always come from catching a fish, but with the sense of accomplishment in learning how to do something. Out at Broyhill Lake, more than one small child was heard during the day celebrating the fact that they had a good cast — all by themselves — after help learning from a patient ‘Mom’ or ‘Dad.’
In the small fry division, Carter Ward may not have caught the big one, but he certainly had a big payday in snagging not just one, but TWO tagged fish, earning $50 in the process. Besides Hamilton and Ward, the other tagged fish were caught by Hank McCary and Abigail Sherman.
Sponsors for the 2016 Trout Derby also included M Prints, Inc., Chetola Mountain Resort & Spa, Jim Allen Home Solutions, the High Country chapter of Hunters Helping Kids, 4 Forty Four Construction, Blowing Rock Tire & Auto, Hollars Construction, Inc., Mike Calhoun’s Bass Club, Bolick and Traditions Pottery, Jenkins Realtors, and the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce. Trophy sponsors included Labonte Plumbing, Inc., the New Public House, Angelo’s Maintenance, Inc., A-1 Termite & Pest Control, Bill Ritter and Allen Baker.
Official results from the 2016 Blowing Rock Trout Derby:
- First Fish — Neahmiah Hamilton, registered at 7:11 am, 11″ Rainbow, caught at Broyhill Lake
- Largest Trout By Species
- Rainbow — Todd Rich, 22-1/4″, caught in Valle Crucis
- Brown — Don Norris, 18-3/4″, caught at Price Lake
- Brook — Paige Bolick, 12-1/4″, caught at Wildcat
- Small Fry Division (Age 11 and under)
- 1st — Jacob Hicks, 16″ Rainbow
- 2nd — Patton Mondyl, 14″ Rainbow
- 3rd — Dustin Hicks, 13-1/2″ Rainbow
- Girls Division (12-16)
- 1st — Emmy Ellis, 15-1/2″ Rainbow
- 2nd — Lisandra Megia, 13-1/2″ Rainbow
- T-3rd — Kathryn Presnell, 12-1/4″ Rainbow
- T-3rd — Paige Bolick, 12-1/4″ Rainbow
- Boys Division (12-16)
- 1st — Brandon Coffey, 17″ Rainbow
- 2nd — Reid Triplett, 11″ Rainbow
- 3rd — Michael Stamey, 9-3/4″ Brown
- Women’s Division
- 1st — Robin Triplett, 18″ Rainbow
- 2nd — Jennifer Hampton, 17″ Rainbow
- 3rd — Paris Bolick, 15-3/4″ Rainbow
- Men’s Division
- 1st — Todd Rich, 22-1/” Rainbow
- 2nd — Don Norris, 18-3/4″ Brown
- 3rd — Jacob Shearer, 16″ Rainbow