With the Ohio Department of Natural Resources announcing last week the release of more than 100,000 rainbow trout in 66 Ohio public lakes, it was only a matter of time before the Highland County Rod & Gun Club announced its annual Kid’s Trout Derby.
Tim Schlater, president of the club, said Monday that the derby, now more than 15 years old, and also sponsored by the Ohio Division of Wildlife and Ohio Division of Parks and Recreation, will be held like usual on the first Saturday of next month, April 6.
There is an April 7 rain date.
Schlater said approximately 1,500 rainbow trout will be stocked into a netted area near the park campground shortly before the derby. Fishing is prohibited in the area from the time the fish are stocked until the trout derby, which will take place from 1-4 p.m. for kids ages 15 and under.
Twelve of the fish will be tagged and any youngster catching one during the derby hours only will win $100. In addition, the first 500 kids to register for the event will receive random prizes. Schlater said around 30 of the prizes will be valued at about $20, and the other prizes will be smaller.
There will be plenty to do than just fish. Kids age 15 and under will also have the opportunity to shoot shotguns or try an archery range from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the same vicinity as the trout derby. All guns and ammunition are provided, and those attending are urged not to bring their own.
Food and drinks will also be provided.
All activities are free of charge.
“Primarily, we like to see all the kids down there having fun,” Schlater said. “But we also want to introduce them to shooting, fishing and the other outdoor sports. In a small way, we can be mentors for the day and maybe introduce them to something that could become a lifelong hobby for them.”
The number of participants depends largely on the weather. Schlater said it has has as few as 300 and as many as 700.
While the Rod & Gun Club organizes the event and covers several expenses, Schlater said the Division of Wildlife provides the fish, lots of manpower, puts up the net and provides a grant that helps pay for the lunches. The Division of Parks and Recreation provides the facility, electric, restrooms and takes care of the garbage.
The Department of Natural Resources announced last week that rainbow trout releases will take place across Ohio from March 8 to May 19 as long as areas are ice free and accessible to anglers.
Many stocked locations will feature special angler events, including youth-only fishing on the day of the trout release.
Rainbow trout are raised at Ohio’s state fish hatcheries and measure 10-13 inches when they are stocked by the ODNR Division of Wildlife. The daily catch limit for inland lakes is five trout.
Anglers age 16 and older must have an Ohio fishing license to fish in state public waters. Ohio fishing licenses are valid for 365 days from the date of purchase. An annual resident fishing license costs $19. A one-day fishing license costs $11. The one-day license may also be redeemed for credit toward the purchase of an annual fishing license.
The trout releases started March 8 at Adams Lake in Adams County. Some of the other nearby release locations include March 21 at Caldwell Lake in Ross County, April 8 at Pike Lake in Pike County, April 13 at Yoctangee Park in Chillicothe, May 4 at Eyman Park in Washington C.H., and May 4 at Stonelick Lake in Clermont County.
Information about the trout releases, including updates to the schedule due to weather and stocking locations, is available at wildohio.gov or by calling 800-WILDLIFE (945-3543).
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.