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Newly-formed Chazy Rod and Gun Club holds ice fishing derby

CHAZY When it came to their first annual Ice Fishing Derby, ask any of the members of the newly-formed Chazy Rod and Gun Club and theyll tell you its for the kids. That point was proved when 15-year-old Peter Garnot took first prize with a 10-ounce yellow perch at the Feb. 16 event. Eighty bucks for a little perch, someone from the crowd yelled out. Im going to buy some new basketball shoes, claimed Peter, as his mother laughed. He already has two pairs, she said, sounding somewhat exasperated. The ice fishing derby marked the first event sponsored by the Chazy Rod and Gun Club. Since the clubs formation in mid-December, it has already grown from a few dozen members to nearly 50. While the clubs official oldest member, Captain Dwight Ward, remembers raising pheasants with his father for a Chazy-based hunting club, there hasnt been one in Chazy since at least the 1950s. According to club president Joe Basto, the lack of a club has left a void in the area. Were not all wealthy so we can buy our own hunting camps, he explained. Plus, lots of us have children and we want to get them involved theyre the future of hunting. In fact, that will be one of the clubs primary goals: teaching the safe and proper use of firearms, along with hunting and fishing techniques, and good stewardship of the land. Although the club does not yet have land of its own, it is currently raising money to purchase land for archery and shooting ranges. In addition to the fishing derby, plans are underway for a pig roast, a spring fling northern pike tournament and hunter safety courses, among other activities. The inaugural tournament drew nearly 40 ice fishermen. According to the participants, the conditions were perfect bright sunshine, above zero temperatures, no wind and a consistent bite all day long. It was just a fun day, said Chuck Steigleman, who won second place with his nine-ounce yellow perch. The ice fishermen were competing to see who could land the largest northern pike and the largest yellow perch, with the top three in each category earning cash prizes. The northern pike winners were: first Shane Vassar, 5.66 pounds; second Chris Pratt, 4.48 pounds; and third Juan Cruz, 3.11 pounds. The yellow perch winners were: first Peter Garnot, 10 ounces; second Chuck Steigleman, 9 ounces; and third Richard Wray, 6.2 ounces. Club secretary Lolita Pierce, one of the few women members, hopes the event will help draw more members, including women. I have a pink fishing rod and its going to whip their butts, she joked, adding, Weve got a great crew. The non-profit club is offering charter memberships for a limited time for the reduced price of $25, annually. Meetings are held at 7 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month at the Weathercock Bar and Restaurant in Chazy. Potential members can attend one of the meetings or contact Joe Basto at 846-3281.

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