8-year-old leads Fish Crazy walleye derby, with $40,000 boat prize

Reese Lecon caught a 12-pound walleye in April and is leading the Fish Crazy derby this spring. He could win a boat! (Matt Lecon)

Eight-year-old Reese Lecon is winning the spring Fish Crazy Walleye Derby, with a 12-pound, 3-ounce whopper. And if he can keep his lead for another 11 days, he’ll win a $40,000 2018 Fusion Pro 20 DC boat.  

“He tells everybody that he’ll have a boat that’s nicer than his dad’s,” said his mom, Jaclyn Lecon.

Reese, who lives in Wayne County with his parents and three younger siblings, caught the walleye trolling a custom-painted deep-diving bandit on April 26 on his dad’s boat in Lake Erie, near Cleveland.

“It’s a fish of a lifetime!” said his dad, Matt, a Summit County sheriff’s deputy. “I am extremely proud of him for the accomplishment… At times during bringing in the fish I could tell he was struggling and getting tired, but I would encourage him that he could do it and stay strong!”

Derby rules say you can fish from shore or a boat in Ohio waters of Lake Erie from April 22 through May 26. The biggest fish, by weight, wins.

“It’s awesome!” said organizer Virgil Tent, who owns Fish Crazy Charters. “It is just so great to see this happening; Lake Erie walleye fishing, family, friends, fun, and great memories.”

The derby is in its 11th year.

This year, nearly 1,100 anglers – including 58 kids younger than 12 — are participating in the Fish Crazy derby, Tent said. The oldest participant is 82-year-old Patricia Pace. The youngest is 3-year-old Devin McCloskey Jr., who is in sixth place in the kids division, with a more than 8-pound walleye.

In 2010, 13-year-old Nicholas Zart won the whole contest. Today he’s a fishing charter captain on Lake Erie.

Kids can win overall, and in the kids’ division. The first place prize for kids is $500, donated by the Fall Brawl walleye derby.

The brawl grew to about 3,700 anglers last fall. And a 14.97-pound catch took the top prize, winning Matthew Branigan a boat.

Who won the 2017 Lake Erie Fall Brawl?

Matt Lecon said he will remember his son’s catch forever. He wants to thank his friends Bret Berkey, Todd Johnson and Don Lint for teaching him how to catch walleye and taking Reese and him out of the boat, before he could buy his own.

Reese took time out of jumping on the trampoline after school for his own phone interview.

“I have a lot of fun fishing,” he said. “And sometimes you can catch a big fish and it’s really cool.”