Children reel in fun at Kids Fishing Derby in Wall

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Sebastian Arcari and Johnny Santiago, both 9, proudly display the prizes they won at the Kids Fishing Derby held at Lower Kessler Pond in Wall Township on Sept. 29. PHOTO BY STEVE WEXLER

WALL TOWNSHIP — Saturday dawned sunny and warm, a perfect fall morning for the annual Wall Township Kids Fishing Derby. More than 200 children and their families turned out, lining Lower Kessler Pond off Hospital Road for a chance to try their luck.

“We are having a great day fishing. Any day fishing is a better day than working,” said Jason Kelly, a Wall police sergeant who was there with his family. “We’re still trying to bed down our first fish.”

Although many fish were caught, none were keepers. That’s because this year, instead of offering prizes for the biggest fish caught, the derby practiced catch-and-release. 

“The whole idea is to move into modern times in terms of the environmental aspects of fishing,” said Thomas Grasso, special projects coordinator for Wall Township, who organized the fishing derby. “You don’t want to kill the fish. You want to make the pond thrive, which is what the children are learning.”  

Dozens of volunteer fishing “instructors,” wearing blue caps, were on hand to help the children bait their hooks and release their catches, if needed. The volunteers include Wall police officers, the Manasquan Inlet Over-the Rail Gang, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and members of several Wall High School clubs.

Mr., Grasso said the nice weather resulted in “a really good turnout. The nice thing about this is, for a lot of these kids, it’s their first time fishing, so they’re learning something new. It’s boys, girls, it’s really a lot of younger kids, which is helpful for the sport,” he said.

For more on this story, read next week's edition of The Coast Star—on newsstands Thursday or online in our e-Edition.