That's a big one! Kindness lures in a great catch
SOMEWHERE ON LAKE CHAMPLAIN — When nine-year-old Grady Cronin of Perkasie, Pa., pulled his fishing line out of the waters of Lake Champlain late last month he fulfilled his own aspirations of landing a really big fish. He also fulfilled a dream of his father that had been dashed six year ago when he suffered a spinal cord injury.
To make both dreams come true, the Cronins got a lot of help from important members of the Addison County sporting community.
The Cronin family made the five-and-a-half-hour trek to Lake Dunmore late in July for a vacation. This wasn’t their first visit here; they liked the area and they liked the fishing. But six years ago, Grady’s dad, Jerry, suffered the catastrophic injury, and that curtailed their visits.
“We were long overdue for fishing,” Jerry said. “My wife and I wanted to make this a special fishing trip for my son because it’s something we haven’t been able to do.”
Jerry had suffered many health problems during his rehabilitation, but four years ago he was blessed with a set of robotic legs — metal contraptions that literally move his legs for him.
“It’s always been my dream to catch a salmon, lake trout or huge brown trout or one of those big lake fish up here in Vermont so naturally my son has the same dream,” Jerry said. “I had no idea how we were going to make this happen but we were going to catch some big fish for my son.”
When the Cronins pulled into town around July 21, Grady, his dad, mother Kim and four-year-old sister Gianna hit up Middlebury Bagel for breakfast, as has been their tradition, and then they went straight to Rack and Reel in New Haven — even before they went to their rental house. Jerry and Grady told the first employee they saw that they wanted to get whatever it takes to catch lake trout, salmon or any other huge lake fish.
“The nice woman who worked there said hold just one minute please and then a gentleman, Shaw Kipp, came over and started educating us on how to do this with a passion too,” Jerry said. “Then he asked us when would be good for us for fishing and asked us if we would be able to go fishing on Thursday because he would take us out and we WOULD catch these fish.
“My wife and kids and I were completely shocked at this gentleman’s generosity. We thought they were just going to sell us a bunch of stuff, but instead he was completely on board with fulfilling our dream.”
Jerry said that Kipp conferred with Tim Little from Vermont Field Sports in Middlebury, and began a plan to get the Cronins on the water and get fish in their creel.
The group set out in Little’s boat on July 25 aiming to land some big fish. Jerry doesn’t know the lake well enough to say exactly where they were, but he said his guides “did ask me to keep the location secret as well so even if I did know the lake I wouldn’t be able to tell.”
Using a Crazy Ivan lure made in Milton, they first caught a salmon, then a lake trout, then Grady landed a monster brown trout that was around 5 pounds. Next Grady pulled out a brown trout that weighed an incredible 10 pounds on the dock.
“We were all blown away. I’m still in disbelief,” Jerry said last week.
When they got the brown trout — which was 26 inches long and had a girth of 20.5 inches — to Vermont Field Sports for an official weigh in, it tipped the scales at 9 pounds, 9.28 ounces; that was a couple of ounces bigger than the four-year-old record for brown trout caught in Lake Champlain.
The Cronins left feeling proud of the fish they had caught and grateful for the help they got quite unexpectedly.
“This has been such an incredible experience and these two gentlemen’s kindness to help total strangers achieve a dream has been the best part of it all,” Jerry Cronin said. “I was at a loss for words that someone would do this for us and go these great lengths to make this happen for us. It was shockingly kind.”