Anglers’ tales at Northbrook derby don’t all involve fish
Left, Walter Kruse (left) and Hank Hojnacki, both of Northbrook, are longtime fishing derby volunteers. | Karie Angell Luc~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 1, 2012 12:59PM
Not only was it a perfect 75-degree Saturday for fishing, but where else, at a fishing derby no less, could two division winners be named Cole and Reed Troutman?
In the 5-and-under category, Cole Troutman won for “Most Fish Caught.” Reed, in the 6-to-8 age division, won the same Troutman bragging rights.
While catching rainbow-sized Lake Michigan trout was a tall order at Lake Shermerville, a 15-inch catfish snagged early into the two hour derby encouraged many of the 300 Wood Oaks Green Park participants here.
But catch and release was the game here. Even small fish, maybe 3 inches long, delighted newbie fishermen like Ian He, 4, of Northbrook, and his dad, Fei.
“It’s my first time fishing as well. I never tried it,” Fei He said.
Of his preschooler petting a slimy worm on a pole: “It’s a big one, touch it, touch it!” said Ian’s dad. In full sun, Ian’s face naturally scrunched up, recoiling more because of that squirming, so the bait went into a lake.
Tiffany Greene, a Northbrook Park District leisure services supervisor said the fishing derby “allows people to enjoy the outdoors and for children, it’s the first time they’ve caught something (that’s) alive, flopping on a pole. It’s a great way to build memories.”
Walter Kruse, a 60-year Northbrook resident, and Hank Hojnacki, both veterans and volunteers, promoted the Izaak Walton League, which champions wildlife appreciation. Hojnacki served in the U.S. Navy, Korea, Kruse in World War II.
“I fought every battle served by (Gen. George S.) Patton,” said Kruse, tying a red-and-white bobber.
Ever go fishing during World War II?
“No,” said Kruse, “but we went skiing on the Fourth of July in the Alps, Innsbruck (Austria).” That was in 1945.
“Oh yah, yep, (Patton) went up to everybody, talked to everyone.” Kruse said. “You were either dead or alive, that was his theory. There was never a sick soldier, no, that’s what he said.”
Kruse said he remembered that when the Army came to cross the Rhine River, the engineers were supposed to put in a bridge right away since they were mostly destroyed and their boats were late for ferrying.
“And he (Patton) said, ‘If they don’t get here pretty soon, well, we’ll swim across,’ and I thought, ‘Like hell, I ain’t gonna swim across with a pack on.”
Another neighbor’s story surfaced.
“My in-law used to (fish) in China and he is learning in the United States,” said Jane Xu, a four-year Northbrook resident.
Xu fished with her father-in-law Jing Feng, husband Kefei Wang, a financial analyst, and son David, 4, a Northbrook Countryside Montessori preschooler.
Any difference between fish in China, in Northbrook?
“Essentially they are the same,” said Feng, through his daughter-in-law who was interpreting.
Feng fished near the Hebei province in China. “Sea fish, crabs,” translated Xu, Feng’s arms going wide to show the size of past catches.
Steve Nojiri, a 15-year Northbrook resident and volunteer (also with the Northbrook Civic Foundation), prepped fishing poles, his left calf sporting a tattoo obtained nearly two years ago.
“It’s a koi,’ said Nojiri, of his tattoo. “To me, it means strength and perseverance.”