Fishing derby angles its way into young hearts in Marietta

Photo by Doug Loyer Madeline Nichols, 8, of Vincent, gets her catfish measured at the derby check-in station.

MARIETTA — Ninety-nine fish, one turtle and one snail were the final tally of the 12th annual Kids Fishing Derby held in Buckeye Park on Saturday in Marietta.

The annual free fishing derby for children 16 and under was held at Buckeye Park’s recently stocked pond. The contestants fished for two hours and then were treated to hot dogs and lunch prepared by the Marietta Civitan Club.

The derby was catch and release and sponsored by Peoples Bank, the City of Marietta and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Each participant received a t-shirt, a backpack, a ODNR bobber and a small tackle box.

Seventy youth anglers signed up to try their luck at reeling in catfish, bluegill and bass. Age groups included 0-6, 7-11 and 12-16. Awards were given to the top three in each age category as well as awards for overall biggest fish, most fish, smallest fish and even non-fish catches which happened to be a turtle and a snail.

“It’s a beautiful day! You can’t beat a day like this,” said Connie Grimes of Peoples Bank, a co-coordinator of the event and also a Marietta Recreation Commission member.

Photo by Doug Loyer James Ruble, 8, of Reno, patiently waits for fish to bite.

“This is what’s it’s all about,” said Grimes, who has been associated with the fishing derby since its beginning in 2005. “Getting the kids out here and enjoy the outdoors. They’re having a great time!”

Co-coordinator Chet Hockenberry said the fishing derby is a great event for the kids and families. He, himself, really enjoys the expressions and smiles on the kids faces when they catch a fish.

“This is fantastic, I love it,” said Susie Joyce, Office Manager of the Marietta Public Facilities Department. “They’re catching fish right off the bat and this is a really good turnout!

“This is one of the better turnouts we’ve had for a few years,” she said. “The beautiful weather has a lot to do with it. We like doing this to promote kids getting outside and getting in touch with the outdoors.”

Joyce said the ODNR, Peoples Bank and Civitan Club have been wonderful. A Step Outside grant from ODNR pays for the stocking of the fish and other items. Peoples Bank does all the setup and registration and provides prizes and financial support and the Civitan members are fantastic for preparing the food for the lunch after the fishing derby, she said.

Photo by Doug Loyer Contestants line the banks during the 12th annual Kids Fishing Derby at Buckeye Park in Marietta on Saturday.

“I’m glad to see everyone out here,” said Ryan Donnelly, State Wildlife Officer with the ODNR Division of Wildlife. “This is an event that the Division of Wildlife likes to support. We want to see more kids get out there fishing and enjoying the outdoors.”

Donnelly said the Division of Wildlife appreciates the organizers doing the fishing derby. It takes a lot of time and effort for them to put this on. He said it’s great to see that their efforts are working to get the kids to come out and fish.

Donnelly added that he was there to help out and to talk with the happy kids catching fish.

“This fishing derby is terrific,” said Stan Gwinn, who was a long-time (14 years) Marietta City Council member. Gwinn has seen Buckeye Park grow from the very beginning. “It’s rewarding to see the park still being utilized for events like this.”

Ron Harris and his wife Dawn, of Belpre, took their daughters, Maggie, 11, and twins Ashleigh and Annabella, 9. This is their fourth year.

Photo by Doug Loyer Ethan Poulton, 10, of Marietta, reels in a catfish during the fishing derby.

“The fishing derby is wonderful,” said Harris. “I have three daughters and they’ve already caught four fish each already!”

They’ve never got up so easy before, joked their father. They were looking forward to this and they were having a wonderful time. Ashleigh even caught a live snail on her hook, said a smiling Harris.

“People’s Bank and the sponsors do a fantastic job,” said Harris. “I can’t give them enough praise for this.”

Lloyd Poulton, of Marietta, took his son Ethan Poulton, 10, and daughter Emma Poulton, 12, to the derby. He shared that he likes taking his kids fishing, saying it’s relaxing for them. Plus it gets them outdoors and gives them a break from other hectic activities.

“I look forward to these opportunities to spending time with my kids. They enjoy fishing and so do I,” said Marcus Nichols of Vincent.

Photo by Doug Loyer Ryan Donnelly, State Wildlife Officer with the ODNR Division of Wildlife, talks with the youth anglers during the fishing derby.

Nichols took his son Preston, 10, and daughter Madeline, 8, to the fishing derby.

“It’s fun to see the their expressions and see them work for something, then experience the rewards,” said Nichols. “It’s a good day!”

After Madeline caught a large catfish, she told her father “I am so happy!”

The Marietta Civitan Outdoor Youth Day which will be Aug. 12 at Buckeye Park. Registration is 8- 9 a.m. The event is free and will offer four outdoor activity stations (half hour per station). It gives kids a little bit of wildlife experience and education. Some events in the past have included fishing, archery, wildlife identification and BB shooting. Events vary year to year.


The fishing derby winners were…

0-6 Age Group

* First: Kaizen Pritt

* Second: Bella Sparks

* Third: Brad Moore

7-11 Age Group

* First: Madeline Nichols

* Second: Maggie Harris

* Third: Trezayn Pritt

12-16 Age Group

* First: Emma Poulton

* Second: Ryan Ferrell

* Third: Keegin Bills

Other awards

* Most fish: Keegin Bills (6)

* Smallest fish: Ryan Ferrell

* Biggest fish: Madeline Nichols (18.5 inches)

* Non-Fish: Emily Beaver (turtle)

* Non-Fish: Ashleigh Harris (snail)