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Senior Anglers Cast Their Lines In Fall Fishing Derby


Ocala’s Tuscawilla Park was full of laughter, love and a lot of worms on Monday as senior citizens came together in a friendly competition to see who could reel in the largest fish during the Senior Fishing Derby.

Ocala hosts the derby twice a year in the spring and the fall for seniors aged 50 years and up. The event is only a few years old, but has steadily grown and is free to all participants. Organizers provide cane poles, bait and lunch for the senior anglers.

Trophies were awarded to the largest catch, as well as the most senior fisherman.

Participants also had the opportunity to win prizes through a raffle. Tickets were given for every catch and prizes included gift cards, gift baskets and fishing rods in youth and adult sizes.

Lynn and James Feldman, snowbirds from Indiana, have been making the journey to Ocala for the past eight years. This is their fourth year taking part in the derby.

“We’ve come every year for four years now,” Lynn Feldman said. “We really enjoy the fresh air.”

While many seniors choose to come on their own, a large number of participants were from nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Janice Rawls laughs and reluctantly holds the fish while her friends take photographs. The fish was her largest catch of the day before she dropped it back into the water. (Kaitlin Hall/WUFT News)


Bessie Carter is surprised as she reels in a small fish. The fish was her first catch of the day. (Kaitlin Hall/WUFT News)


Howard Speights helps a woman take a fish off of her line. Throughout the day he helped the seniors with the technical aspect of the fishing lines. (Kaitlin Hall/WUFT News)


Jimmy Durden amuses his friends by kissing one of the fishes before releasing it. He used his fishing experience to help some of the other seniors. (Kaitlin Hall/WUFT News)


Worms are separated into cups so each participant is ready to begin fishing. Each cup contained five worms, but participants were able to request more. (Kaitlin Hall/WUFT News)


James Feldman receives help from his wife, Lynn, to properly catch fish. A snowbird from Indiana, Feldman has attended the derby for the past four years. (Kaitlin Hall/WUFT News)


Dustin Echols grills lunch for the senior fishing derby every year. It’s been five years since the previous cook retired after 20 years. (Kaitlin Hall/WUFT News)


About Kaitlin Hall

Kaitlin is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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