Photo: From left, 6-year-old Jaelyn Lowell, 7-year-old Talon Bennett and 2-year-old Riley Gehring, all of Hillsboro, admire a couple of trout that were caught Saturday during Family Fishing Day held at Liberty Park’s Harmony Lake.
By Jeff Gilliland – firstname.lastname@example.org
The weather was perfect, lots of fish were caught and 175 kids got a new fishing pole courtesy of the second annual Family Fishing Day held Saturday at Harmony Lake in Hillsboro’s Liberty Park.
Jason Bernard, the Hillsboro Water Plant supervisor who helps organize the event with fellow employee Kyle Clemons and Hillsboro City Auditor Gary Lewis, said that 715 pounds of trout were purchased to be stocked into Harmony Lake for the event. Since the fish were supposed to weigh 2.5 to 3.5 pounds, he estimated 250 to 300 trout were stocked into the lake and that around two-thirds of them were caught by the kids that were 15 or younger by 4 p.m., when the event was open to anyone.
“Jason and Kyle are the ones that deserve the credit,” Lewis said. “I kind of got the ball rolling last year, but they just kept me updated this year on what was going on and did all the leg work.”
Bernard said he was not sure how many kids took part in the event, but that 175 youngsters received a new fishing pole along with bait, and that there were several other kids that fished with their own poles.
In addition to the fishing poles, 30 loaded tackle boxes were given away, Pepsi provided water and pop, Nickles Bakery provided hot dog buns and the Hillsboro Elks supplied hot dogs.
The Highland County Republican Club also donated $100. Four of the stocked fish were tagged and the donation was used to pay any kid who caught a tagged fish $25. Lewis said three of the four tagged fish were caught, then shortly before the event concluded he announced that whoever caught the next fish would receive the last $25.
“Of all the fish that were caught that was probably the smallest one,” Lewis said.
A $2,500 grant from Walmart provided the fishing poles and other supplies while they lasted.
“We’d really like to thank all the sponsors,” Bernard said. “It was nice to see so many people out there. We got a lot of positive comments and we appreciate that. We hope to keep the event going and make it better every year.”
He said the group hopes to have a pavilion in place near the lake next year and possibly a graveled parking area.
“These days kids say they don’t have anything to go do, so it was was nice to see them out there with their families when there’s a lot of them that probably don’t get to do things like that much,” Bernard said. “It kind of gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling, so we don’t mind doing it.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.