Swarthout’s Take a Child Fishing Derby coming up, registration open

CHEMUNG COUNTY, N.Y. (WETM) — Young anglers will soon have the chance to show off their fishing skills at an annual derby.

The Diane Swarthout Memorial Take a Child Fishing Derby is returning for its 21st year on Saturday, June 29. Swarthout’s derby has a new name this year to honor Swarthout’s Bait and Tackle Shop’s founder, Daine Swarthout, who passed away in February.

The Take a Child Fishing Derby invites children aged two to 15 to try to catch the biggest bluegill/sunfish for the chance to win prizes. Participation is free for people who register through May 31 and will cost $15 for people who register between June 1 and June 15. Fishers must register in advance to participate, and parents/guardians can register their children using this form or by visiting Swarthout’s Bait and Tackle Shop, located at 133 E. Hudson St. in Elmira. Proof of age must be provided for participants aged 13 to 15.

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Participants in the derby will need to check in at Swarthout’s between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. on the day of the event. After checking in, chaperones can take their children anywhere in Chemung County to fish for bluegills/sunfish. June 29 is a free fishing day in New York, so kids and their accompanying adults don’t need to have a fishing license. Participants can bring their two biggest catches (live or freshly caught) back to the bait shop between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. for weigh-in. Participants must be in line before noon to be eligible for prizes. Prizes and awards will be given out between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. An optional fundraiser with raffles will follow the derby.

The derby organizers still need food, item, and monetary donations for the celebration following this year’s derby. A list of all needed items can be found on Swarthout’s Facebook page. Those who would like to donate items should reach out to Swarthout’s through Facebook, and those who would like to give a monetary donation can do so through Swarthout’s website.

Anglers who don’t want to wait until the end of June for the fun can take part in virtual warm-ups every week of June leading up to the derby. More information about the optional weekly challenges will be posted as it gets closer to week one.

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