Derby offers chance to reel in the big one

By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal Staff Writer
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Rainbow trout was likely the dinner of choice for many Auburn-area families Saturday night. Hundreds of area children brought home the bacon — er, fish — Saturday after a successful morning at the Placer Sportsmen Inc. 61st annual fishing derby. Boys and girls, along with their moms, dads and other family members, lined the pond at Auburn’s Regional Park in hopes of catching the big one. Elena Topete, 9, of Auburn, posed for a photo with the trout she caught Saturday morning. “It was really fun when we caught the fish, but it’s not fun waiting around,” she said. “I love fishing, it’s one of my favorite things to do. I like feeling how slimy the fish are and reeling in a big fish.” Elena sized up her fellow fishers. “Some are catching a lot, some are catching one or two and some aren’t catching any, but it’s just fun to be out here,” she said. The Placer Sportsmen stocked the pond with 1,000 catchable rainbow trout Friday morning, and let the kids cast their lines, free of charge, bright and early Saturday. Ron DeMello, Placer Sportsmen Inc. president, said the purpose of the derby is to encourage a love of fishing and the outdoors, and a sense of good sportsmanship, in the area’s youth. Tye Engberg-Mallegni, 7, of Grass Valley, demonstrated a sense of good sportsmanship Saturday. While he hadn’t caught any trout as of 9 a.m., his lure and line remained in the water. “I’m trying to catch little fish and see how I do,” he said. Tye, fishing with his own pole, said he enjoys the sport. “I like that you sometimes catch fish and sometimes you don’t. It gets kind of boring but it doesn’t matter — you’ve got to keep trying,” he said. Mike Mallegni, Tye’s father, appreciated the derby. “It gives them something to do, plus it’s exciting to see if you can catch the big one,” he said. A couple of lawn chairs down from the father and son stood Arianna Aponte, 7, of Auburn. She and father, Angel Aponte, attempted to reel in what could have been “the big one,” if only it hadn’t swam away after much tugging on Arianna’s part. Oh well, she said. She’d already caught two trout. “One was a medium and one was big, and I almost caught a really big one,” she said. “I like it because it’s good exercise for your arms and it’s fun to throw it in and see what you’ve caught.” Arianna beat out the competition at last year’s fishing derby — she won an award for biggest catch by a girl, reeling in an eight-pound, five-ounce fish with her Barbie fishing pole, said her dad. The elder Aponte participated in the fishing derby in his younger years, and enjoys bringing his kids down to the pond. “It’s fun because it’s free and all the kids enjoy fishing,” he said. “Plus, you get to spend time with your mothers, your dads, your families.” The Journal’s Loryll Nicolaisen can be reached at, or comment online at