By David Rogers. April 7, 2019. BLOWING ROCK, NC — A first trip to Blowing Rock Trout Derby by a Granite Falls family ended up with a whopper of a fish story.
Young Caleb Schwartz, competing in the “Small Fry” division (ages 11 and under) reeled in the first of five “trophy fish” donated by Chetola Resort and stocked in Broyhill Lake expressly for the younger crowd participating in this year’s Trout Derby. Schwartz haul: a hefty 24-5/8 inch Rainbow trout.
COVER IMAGE: Caleb Schwartz, right, and his brother Malachi, from Granite Falls, caught this trophy fish out of Broyhill Lake on Saturday morning while participating in the 40th annual Blowing Rock Trout Derby. Photo by Amanda Lugenbell
Broyhill Lake is reserved every year for young kids (most of whom are just learning to fish) and adults with disabilities. While Schwartz caught the first of the trophy fish, one of the elder statesmen of Blowing Rock’s Trout Derby and longtime participant, Bill Pearson, caught a second one that measured 21-1/2 inches, also a Rainbow. At the end of the day, three of the donated trophy fish remained at large.
More than 150 fishing enthusiasts registered fish caught in Watauga County waterways on Saturday, and at least 180 participated.
Blowing Rock Trout Derby veteran Gene Hodges edged Schwartz for biggest fish honors, a 24-3/4 inch Rainbow.
When a big fish was caught here at Broyhill Lake, the kids screamed and they know they’ve hooked a big one!
Event chair Kim Rogers greeted the large crowd cramming the inside of the Blowing Rock Community Clubhouse at the end of the day on Saturday, opening her remarks by noting, “This is the 40th consecutive year that we have had Trout Derby. I have been doing this a long time, but today is really pretty special because my father, Elmer Jenkins, was one of four men who started Trout Derby 40 years ago. If he were still alive, he would be 90 today. He was born April 6, 1929.”
Awards and prizes were given to the top three places for largest fish in each of five divisions, as well as three $100 prizes for the largest fish in each species of trout, and another award for the first fish caught and registered.
Molly Graham brought in the first fish Saturday morning, at 7:08 am. The largest Brook trout prize went to Oscar Lambardozzi for his 17-1/2 inch submission. Clay Presnell Price brought in the largest Brown trout, at 13-1/2 inches. And of course, the Rainbow prize went to Hodges, who got not only the largest Rainbow but also the largest fish overall.
The Small Fry division actually brought in some of the biggest fish. The top three finishers included Schwartz, as well as Mary Fran Petrey (18-3/8 inch Rainbow) and Jimmy Darty (17-7/8 inch Rainbow)
In Girls age 12-16, there was a tie for first place between Kinsey Stevens and Kimberly Brown, who cauth 12-inch Rainbow and Brook trout, respectively. Molly Graham was third with an 11-3/4 inch Rainbow, and Kathryn Presnell was close behind with an 11-5/6 inch Brown.
Blowing Rock Trout Derby is such a terrific event.
Topping the Boys age 12-16 division: Clay Brown registered a 13-1/2 inch Brown, Matthew Peine brought in a 12-inch Brown, and Ian Simmons caught an 11-5/8 inch Brook.
Women’s division winners included Janey Dancy (20-1/8 Rainbow), Debra Klein (14-3/4 Rainbow) and Robin Triplett (13-3/8 Brown).
In addition to the aforementioned Hodges and Pearson, the third Men’s division winner was Jason Reed with a 16-3/4 inch Brook trout.
Long after Schwartz had landed the first trophy fish in the morning, Chetola Resort representative Morgan Tarbutton was still bubbling with enthusiasm by Broyhill Lake, just behind the American Legion Building.
“This is such a wonderful event,” Tarbutton gushed. “When a big fish is caught here at Broyhill Lake, the kids scream and they know they’ve hooked a whopper. It is so much fun to see the wonder and excitement in the kids’ eyes, and even more heartwarming to see the fathers and mothers teaching their son or daughter about fishing, both the skill as well as the patience that is sometimes required.”
Another Trout Derby event sponsor is 4 Forty Four Construction. Owner Kevin Troyer sent a text message to Blowing Rock News later in the day from a baseball tournament in Morganton where his son Grant was playing. “Trout Derby is a terrific event,” reads the message. “(My son) Wyatt and I stopped by to watch for awhile in the early morning, before we drove down to Morganton.”
Trout Derby is held on opening day of trout season every year. In addition to Chetola Resort and 4 Forty Four Construction, sponsors include the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (Division of Inland Fisheries), Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce, Hollars Construction, Jenkins Realtors, M-Prints, Inc., Bolick & Traditions Pottery, Blowing Rock Tire & Auto, Mike Calhoun’s Bass Club, High Country Chapter of Hunters Helping Kids, Jim Allen Home Solutions, Snake Mountain Iron Works, and A-1 Termite & Pest Control. Trophy sponsors for 2019 included Labonte Plumbing, Mountaineer Maintenance, and First Citizens Bank.