by Tim Clancy 

The Knee Deep Club of lake Hopatcong had a very busy day on Saturday June 9th. They started the morning off at Memorial Pond in Mt. Arlington with what was their 52nd Annual Junior Derby.  Both the club & Fish & Wildlife had stocked fish prior to the event.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Photo: Jim Salerno

 Top finishers L-R, Jake Babus 1st Place, Thomas Liguori 3rd Place & Connor Mahoney 2nd Place.  All top three fish were brook trout.

 Nearly 40 local children registered for the event and the fishing action was steady right up until the competition was over.  Many species were caught including trout, largemouth bass, crappie, yellow perch, sunfish and channel catfish.  After the lucky young anglers who caught the three largest fish were awarded trophies, rod & reel combos along with a tackle box, every participant was given a grab bag gift of fishing tackle compliments of the Knee Deep Club.  KDC Director Jim Salerno commented, “it appeared that nearly every kid present caughtsomething, and there were some nice size fish landed.  But even if someone didn’t land a fish they all walked away feeling like a winner after we presented them with their grab bag gifts”.  


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                                               Winner Connor Mahoney                                     Photo: Leslie Sullivan

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                                               Winner: Thomas Ligouri                                       Photo: Leslie Sullivan

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Knee Deep Club event organizers: Rich Everett, Pete Pellegrino, Jim Salerno                                        

Photo: Leslie Sullivan

After some group photos everyone present was treated to an old fashioned barbecue as “Grill Master” John Fernandez, along with his crack team of helpers, kept a steady stream of hot dogs, hamburgers, soft drinks and other goodies going until everyone had their fill. 

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                      Club Member Ted Regtz looks on as Grill Master John Fernandez                            Photo: Jim Salerno

                                              gets the first round of burgers & dogs ready to go. 

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                                        Brother’s Connor and Mathew Rehe show off their big catch  Photo: Leslie Sullivan

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               Samantha Wood     Photo: Leslie Sullivan


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                                               Lucas fishes with partner and dad, Brian Swenson                                              Photo: Leslie Sullivan


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                           A group shot of a bunch of happy anglers after receiving their Grab Bag of Fishing Goodies compliments of KDC.      Photo: Jim Salerno

As the Junior Derby was winding down invited guests from various group home for special needs children began arriving for the Annual Chuck Frith Memorial Handicapped Children’s Outing.    

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                                                                                                    Owen Wagner and mom, Laura                      Photo: Leslie Sullivan

The club has been hosting this event since 1975 and it is generously funded through The Cutter Trust Fund and the Cheeseborough Summit Home for Children.  KDC Director Lou Marcucci who has been attending this event for over twenty years said, “we neverknow exactly how many kids will show each year, but this is the most I’ve ever seen and it really ran smooth.”  He added, “we guess we had around 70 kids and it was very rewarding to see the great fun they all had.”


The club had over 50 rod & reels and members on hand to help all the kids.  When they weren’t fishing they kept John Fernandez and his team busy at the grill.  When the event was over every participant had enjoyed a good time fishing, a great meal with their KDC friends and each participant was given a Knee Deep Club T Shirt and a small trophy declaring them "The World’s Best Angler".


The event was named in memory of past club member Chuck Frith who was one of the original organizers and helped secure funding for this annual event.  In 2000 the Knee Deep Club planted a tree and a monument with a plaque bearing Chuck’s name at Memorial Pond.  The Knee Deep Club also would like to thank the Township of Mt. Arlington for use of the pond and their continued support for these worthy events.


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  Club Trustee Brad Garie helps one of the participants unhook a nice brook trout.   Photo: Jim Salerno


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One of the lucky anglers proudly shows off his trophy declaring him The World's Best Fisherman. Photo: Jim Salerno

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