Despite less than ideal conditions, hundreds of anglers took to inland lakes early Saturday in the hopes of getting more than wet during the largest fishing derby of the season, hosted by the Kenosha County Tavern League.
“We caught one small bass,” said Jaydn Freitag, 13, of Kenosha, who spent several hours fishing on Lake Mary in Twin Lakes with his grandfather Tom Jurik. “I got soaked.”
“The last time we were out we caught two huge northern pike,” Jurik, also of Kenosha, said. “That’s the way it goes.”
By 4 p.m., hundreds convened at the derby headquarters at Bella Vita Banquet and Convention Center in Wheatland for food, music and arguably the largest raffle in the county.
“We know it’s all for a great cause,” Kellye Dien of Waterford said. “It’s more about this than the fishing.”
Donations totaling $24,000 from the Kenosha County Tavern League were given out at the event in support of the following organizations:
VetsRoll — $10,000
Area fire departments — $6,000 ($1,000 each to departments in Paris, Bristol, Salem Lakes, Randall, Wheatland and Twin Lakes)
Twin Lakes Police Department K-9 unit — $2,000
Honor Connor — $5,000
Westosha Headstart — $1,000
A $10 entry ticket covered the cost of derby entry, food and entry into a general raffle with more than 200 prizes.
Among those prizes were seven patio grills, five trolling motors, four chest freezers, two kayaks, a mini bike, fish finders, coolers, gold clubs and dozens of fishing poles. Separate raffles were held for larger prize packages.
John Bielen Jr., his father John Bielen Sr., and uncle Jim Bielen, all of Pleasant Prairie, headed out to Powers Lake at 6 a.m. where they hit it big.
“I caught a 13.5-inch crappie,” John Jr., said.
That crappie netted him a $200 prize.
First-, second- and third-place prizes of $200, $100 and $50 were awarded in each of six fish categories.
The Bielen clan has been raking in awards at derbies this season. They also caught winning fish in derbies held on Camp Lake and Lake George.