Mahar Fish’N Game Club running virtual derby

  • Mahar Fish’N Game Vice President Natalie Apteker shows off a fish she caught during the club’s virtual fishing derby. The event is running through the end of May. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 5/22/2020 5:08:45 PM
Modified: 5/22/2020 5:08:32 PM

While events in the traditional sense have been all but halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Mahar Fish’N Game Club is among those organizations getting creative in order to stay active.

The club, which has been around since 1957, is in the midst of a virtual fishing derby that will run until the end of May. Instead of their traditional daylong gathering, Mahar’s new-look derby features virtual check-ins for fish. There are prizes for students who land the biggest fish as well as the most fish, but mostly, co-advisor Jerry Duguay said it’s a chance for club members to get out and fish despite not being together physically.

“It’s actually been going pretty well,” said Duguay, who advises the middle school club members while Evelyn Cunha handles the high school members. “Evelyn came up with the idea and I think it’s been great. It’s been tough for everyone with everything going on, but with responsible social distancing, fishing is definitely something that we can be doing right now.” 

The club, which features about 50 members these days, normally would have had a calendar full of activities in the spring had schools not been closed back in March. That list included the annual deep sea fishing trip to Gloucester that would’ve happened this month, and the spring fishing derby at Silver Lake. That physical derby was canceled, as was the club’s annual game feed back in mid-March. Duguay said all the meat was frozen, and there are hopes that it will still happen in some way, shape or form.

“This is normally a very busy time for the club,” he said.

As of Friday morning, 83 fish had been caught by club members for the virtual derby, and the biggest measured in at 6.25 pounds.

While many fishing derbies have been canceled throughout Western Massachusetts due to the pandemic, that doesn’t mean the fishing has been poor by any means. With hatcheries basically emptying their tanks this spring, trout have been plentiful in the waters throughout Franklin County and the North Quabbin Region.

“Trout stocking was unprecedented,” Duguay said. “All the lakes are loaded with trout. And fishing in general, I’ve been out and about and I’ve probably seen more people than ever enjoying it.”

The club, which is self-funded, has also made history this school year as for the first time ever, all of the officers in charge are girls — President Sienna Moore, Vice President Natalie Apteker, Secretary Grace Rich and Treasurer Taylor Soucie.

“There’s a lot of history here so with the support of the town and the history associated with our club, we’re hoping to get through this and get back to doing what everyone likes come next school year,” said Duguay.

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