Kids get hooked on fishing derby in spite of cold

PARKERSBURG – Several hundred children and their parents braved the cold temperatures to catch fish and have fun Saturday during the 33rd annual Parkersburg Fishing Derby at the ponds at City Park and Southwood Park.

“The turnout is great considering how cold it is,” 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 about 300 kids fishing out of City Park Pond by 10 a.m., whereas last year’s derby saw about 325.

“The cold weather did little to keep the kids away, although I think it is keeping the fish from biting too much,” Marshall said.

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

On Saturday, the chilly weather kept many away while others dealt with the cold by wearing several layers, hats, gloves and hoods up while they sought the golden trout.

Layla DeBerry, 3, of Parkersburg, was all smiles as she and her mother Dominique DeBerry brought the child’s first-ever catch to be measured.

“This is our first year bringing her and she seems to like it,” said Dominique DeBerry. “She smiles and has been having a good time.”

When asked what her favorite part was, Layla DeBerry smiled.

“Catching the fishes is best,” she said.

The fishing derby is put on every year as an event the entire family can enjoy together and at a decent price, since participation is free for the children.

“We do the fishing derby to promote fishing as a form of recreation,” Marshall said. “We have parents who are 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 event 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 Thursday, with no fishing permitted from Thursday through Saturday. After the derby finished, open fishing at both ponds resumed Saturday afternoon.

Each pond was stocked with five tagged fish, sponsored by Life Guard Medical Supply. Each tagged fish was worth $50.

Each pond also was stocked with one golden trout and whoever caught the trout could have received a $100 prize in memory of former Parkersburg mayor Al Smith and a trophy.

The golden trout and tagged fish were not caught at City Park on Saturday, but the golden trout at Southwood Park was caught by Riley Karcher, 9.

“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.”

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

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