Anglers fired up for Caroga’s derby

Aaron Cronse of Fort Plain displays a 19 3/4-inch, 4.7-pound fish that won him first place in the pickerel category Saturday in the Fire and Ice fishing derby, a fundraiser for the Caroga Lake Volunteer Fire Company. (The Leader-Herald/Eric Retzlaff)

CAROGA — A Fort Plain man took first place in the pickerel category at the Fire And Ice ice fishing derby Saturday while also taking first place in this week’s competition in the New York State Classic Fishing Tournament.

Aaron Cronse received a $300 prize in the town derby for a 26 3/4-inch, 4.7-pound fish, which also made him the weekly winner and earned him fifth place in the pickerel category for the statewide contest running Jan. 1 to Feb. 28.

The local derby also raised about $4,000 for the Caroga Lake Volunteer Fire Company, which sponsored the event to raise money to build a larger $2 million firehouse.

The other adult first-place winners in the Caroga derby were Brent Mullberger for a 21-inch, 3.6-pound lake trout from Green Lake; Brandon Henerich for a 19-inch, 2.4-pound rainbow trout from Green; Amanda MacPhal for a 19-inch, 2.3-pound splake from West Caroga Lake; and Thomas Cascone for a 13 1/4-inch, 1.4-pound panfish from East Caroga Lake.

First-place winners in the under-16 group were Kaya Rote for a 12 1/4-inch, 6-pound panfish from East Caroga; Jackson Betler for a 26-inch, 5.5-pound lake trout from Canada; Kyle Dwyer for a 12-inch, 0.2-pound trout from East Caroga; Triptan Case for a 16 1/2-inch, 1.3-pound splake from West Caroga; and Mathew Diana for a 23 1/2-inch, 2.8-pound pickerel from East Caroga.

The second- and third-place adult winners received $125 and $75 respectively. The youth prizes were a fishing pole and reel, first place; a tipup, second; and a bait basket, third.

The names of the second- and third-place winners were not immediately available but will be on the fire company’s Facebook page within a week.

The derby ran from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., with up to 2,300 in prizes awarded at Vrooman’s Hotel at about 3:15, and included a variety of raffle drawings.

“Weather conditions were with us today, and everybody was enjoying the sport,” said Ralph Palcovic, assistant fire chief.

“This is a recreational town, and this event promotes the town.”

He said the ice was 18 to 24 inches thick, so that “wherever you went you saw motor vehicles on it.” If anything, the very hard ice was tough on auger blades, he said.

The day was clear and in the low 40s, and rain didn’t start until anglers and families were in Vrooman’s for the awarding of prizes. The bar was packed and noisy while Clarence “Peanut” Chamberlain, owner of Sportman’s Choice Outdoor Sport Supply, announced the winners and fire chief Barbara DeLuca handed out the prizes.

“This is one of our biggest fundraisers,” said DeLuca. “It’s been a great effort of a lot of people.”

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