Cathleen Cornell, Carterville, and James Bemus, Granby, were just two of 200 who took part in the annual Senior and Handicapped Fishing Derby, held from 9 a.m. to noon Friday at the Neosho National Fish Hatchery.

Cornell said she loves to fish, but “I just don’t get to go often enough is my problem.”

Each of the participants could catch up to four fish, have them cleaned and put into bags to be taken home.
“I think that it is wonderful,” Cornell said. “But I would like a few more bigger trout.”

As far as what is the key to catching fish, her words of wisdom are unique.

“Just throw out there and hope that you get in the right spot and they are hungry,” she said. “I plan to take them home, put them in the freezer and when I get a chance, I will have my son fire up the grill and grill them.”
It has been a while since Bemus has fished.

“I turned 65 in May, so this is the first time that I have been fishing in decades,” he said, as he caught his third fish – just 15 minutes after the event started.

He plans on taking the fish home with him.

“My wife said, ‘come home with fish, that is what we are going to have for supper,’” he said with a smile.
For Bemus, fishing is a great thing to do.

“I think the best thing is catching fish,” he said. “But sitting here by the water is very calm and very relaxing. I am going to go fishing soon. And yes, definitely, I will be back next year.”

Hatchery Manager Dave Hendrix was pleased with the turnout and the fish.

“They are catching the fish on cue,” Hendrix said. “I think that it is wonderful. This gives us an opportunity to bring them in here, show our appreciation to each and everyone of them for the support they have shown over the years for this hatchery. They come in, relax, catch their four fish, then have them cleaned. We just have a wonderful, wonderful day, fellowshipping, and the fish are just biting like crazy.”

Overall, this event is “awesome,” the hatchery manger added.

“This is Americana right here. I just love it,” he said.