Sportsmans Club hosts ice fishing derby

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Thompson - posted Mon., Feb. 28, 2011
Evan Zanauskas holds up his prize-winning trout at the Valley Springs Sportsmans Club. Photos by Denise Coffey.
Evan Zanauskas holds up his prize-winning trout at the Valley Springs Sportsmans Club. Photos by Denise Coffey.

Ten-year-old Evan Zanauskas hooked a $10,000 rainbow trout at the Ice Fishing Derby at Valley Springs Sportsmans Club in Thompson on Feb. 27. Joe Janesek hooked a trout worthy of a large-screen television. Six other entrants caught specially-tagged rainbow and brook trout worth the cost of admission in a fundraiser for the Congregational Church of Putnam Steeple Project. At the end of the day, the church found itself around $5,000 richer.

Bob Picard, a trustee of the church, said the money raised should put them close to $67,000 towards a capital campaign goal of $75,000. The steeple - which was in serious need of repair - was taken down, repaired in six months with a volunteer crew, and replaced 2,000 pounds heavier with new materials and roofing shingles. Repairs included work on the inside of the steeple, pointing and chimney repairs. “Our capital campaign fund maxed out at $75,000,” Picard said.

Steve Bousquet, a member of the local sportsmen’s club and the Putnam Congregational Church, has been fundraising for years. He estimates that he’s helped raise more than $250,000. “My name is out there,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of things, including golf tournaments and ice fishing derbies. I’ve lived in the area my whole life. I love the area. I like to help people.”

“Steve Bousquet is a great guy,” Picard added. “He’s very generous. He’s always done so much for us. WINY is great. And the community at large is fantastic.”

Bousquet received 150 entries for the derby and had to turn away 30 to 40 additional people. Fishermen and women came from all over Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Islandand New Yorkfor the event. Club members drilled 500 holes in Valley Spring Pond, a 4-acre pond that runs about 20 to 25 feet deep. Twenty fish were tagged for the tournament, and were released 50 yards apart in the pond. Entrants could fish in two holes at a time with jigs, flags, or a mix of both.

Bousquet estimated that between 800 and 900 trout, bass and pickerel were in the pond.

Ed Danielson from Thompson caught a 2-pound large-mouth bass in his first-ever ice fishing event. He said he was there to support the community. “This is payback for everything that people do for us,” he said. Danielson runs Project Graduation at TourtellotteMemorialHigh School. “I get to meet some people. They see me, I see them. It all works out,” he added.

Steve Larrow was letting his flag do the work while he took a break. “The day is perfect. The ice is shadowed. It’s dark. The fish are biting,” he said.

Summer Barbeau’s 14-inch trout lay on the ice just feet from her fishing hole. The fish wasn’t tagged, but she intended to take it home and eat it. Contestants could keep up to three fish.

From the sounds of the cheers coming up regularly across the pond, Barbeau wasn’t going to be the only one eating her winnings.

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