Reelin’ Them In

PARKERSBURG – Several hundred children with their parents and grandparents surrounded the ponds in both City Park and Southwood Park as they took advantage of the beautiful weather on Saturday during the 34th annual Parkersburg Fishing Derby.

“The turnout is wonderful and I am sure it is all down to the amazing weather,” said Vickie Marshall, director of the Wood County Recreation Commission. “It seems that kids always want to try and catch fish while the parents always want to make the kids happy.”

There were more than 300 kids fishing out of City Park Pond by 10 a.m., because of the warm temperatures and sunshine, Marshall said about 250 kids were at the park and having caught fish before 9:30 a.m.

“We got an early start this morning because it seems the weather made everyone want to be outside,” she said. “We had kids having their first fish measured before we were really ready, which is great.”

The derby was open to all children between the ages of 3-14 years with prizes awarded in different age groups and for grand champion.

On Saturday, the weather was perfect for the derby as little girls wore spring dresses and boys donned fishing gear while they sought the golden trout.

Hendrix Geer, 2, of Parkersburg, was excited to participate in his first fishing derby and had caught his first fish within the first 45 minutes.

“This is his first year at the fishing derby and first fish he got to reel in,” said Hendrix’s grandfather, Keith Dennis. “He seems to be having fun.”

When asked what he thought of the day, the toddler grinned.

“I have a fish,” he exclaimed.

The fishing derby is organized each year as an event for the entire family to enjoy together.

“We do the fishing derby to promote fishing as a form of recreation,” Marshall said. “We have parents bringing their kids who came as kids with their parents.

“It has become a family tradition for many people. It is a lot of fun.”

The free derby did not require fishing licenses and each child was allowed to take home the fish they caught. All fish were measured for awarding of prizes.

The ponds were stocked on April 17 with no fishing permitted from Thursday through Saturday. After the derby finished, open fishing resumed at both ponds.

Each pond was stocked with five tagged fish that were worth a $50 prize each, sponsored by Life Guard Medical Supply.

Also, both ponds were stocked with one golden trout and whoever caught the trout could have received a $100 prize in memory of former mayor Al Smith and a trophy. However, the golden trouts and tagged fish were not caught at City Park on Saturday.

“The last time someone caught the golden trout in City Park was years ago,” Marshall said. “Every year we hope someone catches it, but it hasn’t happened in a while.”

Both of the grand champions received fishing gear and will have their fish mounted by Critter Creations Taxidermy. The first-place finishers in each age group received new fishing gear. The second- and third-place finishers in each age group also received fishing gear. There were also awards for smallest fish and largest non-trout.

“This was the second year we didn’t give out bicycles,” Marshall said. “But fishing gear fits these kids better than bicycles.”