Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey kids' stuff again this year

Bill HiltsThe 37th Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey was held Aug. 17-25 out of the counties of Niagara, Erie and Orleans. A huge focus is on the Junior Division, giving kids 15 and under the opportunity to compete in a friendly atmosphere. Some pretty impressive fish came to the scales, a tribute to the skills that some of these youngsters possess and the desire by their parents to share this popular pastime with the next generation of angler. They are passing a torch they hope will burn bright into the future.

One youngster who already has the fishing bug is nine-year-old Peter Campbell of Niagara Falls. Of course, it helps that his dad is a charter captain that fishes some 200 days a year (or more). The important thing is that his dad, Frank, takes the time from his hectic schedule to take his kids fishing. Because Capt. Frank is in tune with so many different aspects of the fishery, he’s able to take Peter salmon and trout fishing in Lake Ontario or bass and walleye fishing on the Niagara River or Lake Erie. At one point, young Peter had three different fish on the leaderboard for the Odyssey. In the end, though, it’s only one prize and one fish for each youth. It’s your best catch that's recognized when the final fish is posted and the derby comes to a close.

For Peter, it was a 12-pound, 12-ounce steelhead he reeled in out in Lake Ontario off the mouth of the Niagara River. It was the biggest steelhead of his life and he was one proud junior angler. When his dad asked him if he wanted to stay on vacation in Canada on Sunday of the awards ceremony or receive his prize, without any hesitation he opted for the awards gathering.

At the awards ceremony that Sunday, traffic congestion on the bridge coming back from Canada was a bit difficult. The father and son arrived late to the awards and young Peter missed the opportunity to put his name into the hat for the Grand Prize drawing made up of all the first place winners. You have to be there to qualify for that special drawing, but Peter was okay with that. He did win a nice rod and reel, tackle box and a trophy that acknowledged his first place ranking.

It wasn’t his fault he was late and I felt bad that he missed the drawing. However, some things are just meant to be in the end. Carmen Presti and his Primate Sanctuary were on hand at the awards once again to provide a new bike for a drawing of all the kids in attendance. Even though Peter was late, the drawing was held at the end of the youth portion of the awards and he obtained a ticket for the bike draw.

As Emily the Monkey drew the ticket, I had a feeling that the “universe” was going to make things right for a happy-go-lucky nine-year-old. As Carmen shouted out the winning ticket, young Peter had a huge smile on his face and ambled up to the front. But it didn’t end there. When asked if he needed a new bike, he said he didn’t need one – but his sister did. Nice guys can finish first!

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