Children compete for biggest catch at Civitan Park

BELPRE – Carp and catfish were pulled from the pond in Belpre’s Civitan Park on Saturday in an effort to show kids what the outdoors has to offer.

About 50 children between the ages of 5-15 held their fishing poles in hopes of reeling in the largest catch during the fourth annual Belpre Area Kids’ Fishing Derby on Saturday morning.

“There are prizes for the kids, but what we are really doing is showing them there are a lot of fun things to do away from the couch and television and outside,” said organizer Dean Sinclair, wildlife specialist with the Washington Soil and Water Conservation District, which organized the event with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Sinclair released about 60 large carp and catfish in the small park pond Friday around noon and by 9 a.m. Saturday, they were biting. For the first time, the derby also included archery and crafts to give participants other things to do.

“I grew up hunting and fishing and as my daughter got older I noticed kids not wanting to go outside and play,” Sinclair said. “They only wanted to lay on the couch and watch TV and play video games; I don’t know about you, but I prefer to be outside doing things.”

Because of television and books, children have more knowledge about animals in other areas of the world, including Africa and Australia, than they do local wildlife.

“They can tell you about a zebra or kangaroo, but they can’t tell you anything about deer, coyotes or the fish in the Ohio River,” he said. “This program is to get them to experience it instead of reading about it or seeing it in videos.”

Sinclair and Eric Bear, with the ODNR, said kids and families spend too much time in their homes and the programs provided throughout the county by the ODNR and conservation district combat the desire to be lazy.

The Belpre event was the last in a series of fishing derbies throughout Washington County organized by the district, but the ODNR will hold a youth day Aug. 10 at Buckeye Park in Marietta. The program will include archery, fishing, BB gun shooting and other activities.

“In the past decade the number of outdoorsmen and women has declined by large numbers and that is because people see going outside and doing things as too much work when they can be entertained by the TV,” Bear said. “There is a descent between today’s youth and the outdoors and we are doing our part to help end that.”