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Big fish a big hit at Lower Burrell fishing derby | TribLIVE.com
Valley News Dispatch

Big fish a big hit at Lower Burrell fishing derby

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Chuck Biedka | Tribune-Review
Bob Carrigan holds a sheephead just caught by his nephew, Justin Micholas of Harrison. It was the largest fish caught at the annual kids fishing derby at Burrell Lake Park in Lower Burrell on Saturday, June 9, 2018.
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Chuck Biedka | Tribune-Review
Justin Micholas of Harrison reels in a big one Saturday while his uncle, Bob Carrigan, gives him fish fighting tips. Justin caught the largest fish at the annual kids fishing derby at Burrell Lake Park in Lower Burrell on Saturday, June 9, 2018.
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Chuck Biedka | Tribune-Review
Skyla Mota of Lower Burrell and her uncle, Jon Bean, with the 20-inch catfish Skyla caught during the annual kids fishing derby at Burrell Lake Park on Saturday, June 9, 2018.
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Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
Skyla Mota picks out her prize fishing rod given by Steve Hegedus, president of the Tri-County Trout Club after catching a 20 inch catfish during the kids’ free fishing derby on Saturday, June 9, 2018 at Burrell Lake Park.
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Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
Justin Micholas picks up his grand prize winnings given by Steve Hegedus, president of the Tri-County Trout Club after catching a 23 inch carp during the kids’ free fishing derby on Saturday, June 9, 2018 at Burrell Lake Park.
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Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
Three-year-old Ellis Thomas picks up his prize winnings given by Steve Hegedus, president of the Tri-County Trout Club after catching a 15 and a half inch bass during the kids’ free fishing derby on Saturday, June 9, 2018 at Burrell Lake Park.
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Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
The winners from the kids’ free fishing derby (from left) Ellis Thomas, Adam Schematic, Justin Micholas, Elliot Litz and Skyla Mota pose for a group photo with their prize winnings on Saturday, June 9, 2018 at Burrell Lake Park.

Skyla Mota, 8, of Lower Burrell watched her fishing bobber in the current Saturday. No luck.

Youngsters on her right and left were reeling in fish at the annual fishing derby sponsored by the Tri-County Trout Club and others at Burrell Lake Park.

Mota wasn’t.

For more than 90 minutes, Mota didn’t have a bite and the clock was ticking down on the derby. Nearby, Mota’s uncle, Jon Bean of Murrysville, quietly urged her to wait and watch.

“Have patience,” he said as he replaced the bait on her hook.

Minutes later, it all paid off for the young lady in the pink T-shirt.

With just about 15 minutes remaining, Mota reeled in and released a 20-inch catfish.

It wasn’t the largest fish of the day, but it won Mota a rod, reel and tackle.

“It was really cool,” she said. “I didn’t think I would win anything, and that was OK, and then I won all this stuff.”

“She’s learning patience,” Bean said.

Ten feet away, Emma Ward, 7, was beaming when she caught and released her first sunfish.

“It was my first fish ever,” she said standing next to her mother, Heather Ward, both of Lower Burrell.

Emma’s sunfish wasn’t the largest at the kids fishing derby. But she also hooked and released a second sunfish. “Her first trip out, she didn’t catch anything. Now she has caught two,” Heather Ward s aid.Emma Ward wants to go fishing again.

So does 9-year-old Delaney Polskunak of Allegheny Township and Tyler Smart, 9, of West Deer.

Delaney caught two bass, about 8 and 10 inches long, and enjoyed the sun under her pink hat.

Across the lake, Tyler, fishing with his Pap and brother, caught a 15-inch catfish.

Mina Lazic, 5, and Luka Lazic, 7, of Frazer were catching sunfish with their mother, Nevena Lazic.

“We went to a fishing lesson last week and we are here,” Nevena Lazic said. “They are having fun.”

“Getting them to want to fish is the goal,” Tri-County president Steve Hegedus said.

Daughter Emily Hegedus helped with making announcements to the nearly 80 participants.

Justin Micholas, 9, of Harrison caught the biggest fish of the morning.

Justin reeled in a 23-inch sheephead — or freshwater drum.

Following directions from his uncle, Bob Carrigan, Justin kept the rod tip up and prevented the fish from snapping the line.

Cousin Landon Carrigan gave play-by-play commentary. “Look at it. It’s a big one,” he said before his dad reached down to retrieve the fish.

The sheephead was measured and carefully released into the water.

“When I was about his age, I got my photo in the Valley News Dispatch,” said Bob Carrigan, n ow 45.”I caught a big carp in the Allegheny River.”

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4711, cbiedka@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ChuckBiedka.

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