Whether your line had a worm or power bait (various colored balls of a commercial fish food) and you halfway dipped the line into the water, you couldn't avoid catching a fish in the crowded plastic-lined tubs that held the fish. Maybe it was the water, but those fish really acted like they wanted to be caught.
The competition was divided by age into three groups: 3-to-6-year-olds, 7-to-9-year-olds and 10-to-12-year-olds. First- through third-place prizes were awarded in each group, as well as prizes for the biggest and smallest fish caught. The older kids caught their fish from an area cordoned off by nets in the reservoir next to a boardwalk. A total of 409 youngsters, a Derby record, attended the event.
Jared Rodrigues, 9, of Antioch, threw his worm-baited line into the pond, pulled back briefly and then dipped the top of his pole right into the water to move things better. Suddenly his pole bent like a paper clip. Meechee Flucus of Bay Point held a net while Jared dropped his catch into it to be taken away for weighing and measuring.
Meanwhile, poles were bending and flopping fish were yanked out left and right.
Trent Singh, 12, of Antioch carried a pair of 1.5-pound fish in his bag as he walked back to his car with his dad, Kevin Singh, who estimated they had been fishing for about a half hour when the first one struck.
Even 7-year-old Seth Cronin of Concord caught one - his first fish ever - a 17-inch rainbow trout.
It's doubtful, however, that Seth has the makings of a "real fisherman." Not only did he not brag about the bigger ones that got away, he only nodded in response to a reporter's questions. He left the public relations to Grandpa Bill Cronin. "The first thing he said after he pulled it out was 'Poppie, get that thing away from me,'" the senior Cronin said.
Still, the youngster has a lot of time and many more fishing derbies ahead of him to improve his angling and prevaricating skills. Saturday, however, he seemed content to let the others compete after catching his "big one."
Noelle Jesus, 8, of Antioch, was angling in one of the ponds with the assistance of her father, Patrick Jesus. Although Dad offered advice and manned the net, ready to help her haul in her catch, Noelle seemed to be doing quite well on her own. In her plastic bag were four rainbow trout, two for her sister and two for her.
"She's a miniature pro," said Patrick.