It’s a sure sign spring is on the way when the Highland County Rod and Gun Club announces its annual Kids Trout Derby. This year’s fishing derby and shooting activities will take place Saturday, April 2 at the docks at the Rocky Fork State Park Campground.
Shooting activities, including archery and shotgun, will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the fishing derby will take place from 1-4 p.m.
Approximately 1,500 rainbow trout will be released into a netted area near the docks prior to the derby. Twelve of them will be tagged and anyone catching one during the fishing derby will win $100.
All activities during the day are free. In addition to shooting and fishing there will be a lunch and various prizes. Several varieties of bait will also be provided free of charge, but kids participating must bring their own fishing equipment.
Fishing is restricted to youth ages 15 and younger during the fishing derby. After 4 p.m. fishing in the netted area will be open to the public for all ages.
The event normal attracts 500 to 700 kids, according to Tim Schlater of the Highland County Rod and Gun Club, which sponsors the event along with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Parks and ODNR Division of Wildlife.
Any individual or businesses wanting to sponsor a tagged fish can call Schlater at 937-403-5811.
“It’s just a great opportunity to expose kids to the outdoor sports and give them a chance to experience something that can turn into a lifelong hobby for them when they grow up,” Schlater previously said of the reason the club holds the event each year.
The rainbow trout being released at Rocky Fork are part of more than 100,000 trout expected to be released this spring in 64 Ohio public lakes and ponds by the ODNR.
The trout are raised at state fish hatcheries and measure 10-13 inches before they are released by the Division of Wildlife. The daily catch limit for inland lakes is five trout.
Stocking areas across the state is expected to create opportunities for anglers of all ages to get out and enjoy quality spring trout fishing in a family-friendly environment. Many stocked locations will feature special angler events, including youth-only fishing on the day of the trout release, the ODNR said in a news release.
The trout releases begin March 11 at Adams Lake in Adams County and continue through May 7 at Giertz Lake in Hancock County. Other nearby releases include March 24 at Caldwell Lake in Ross County, April 9 at Yoctangee Park in Chillicothe and Stonelick Lake in Clermont County, April 23 at Turkey Creek Lake in Scioto County, and April 30 at Eyman Park in Washington C.H.
Anglers age 16 and older must have an Ohio fishing license to fish in state public waters. The 2016-17 fishing license is now available and is valid through Feb. 28, 2017. An annual resident fishing license costs $19. A one-day fishing license costs $11 for residents and nonresidents. The one-day license may be redeemed for credit toward the purchase of an annual fishing license.
Licenses and permits can be purchased online at wildohio.gov and at participating agents throughout the state. A complete list of participating license sales agents can be found at wildohio.gov.
Sales of fishing licenses, along with the Federal Sport Fish Restoration (SFR) program, fund the operation of the ODNR Division of Wildlife’s fish hatcheries. No state tax dollars are used. It is strictly a user-pay, user-benefit program, according to the ODNR.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.