MARSH CREEK – Sunny blue skies and warm temperatures made it the perfect day for a Fishing Derby held at the Liberty Township Sportsmen’s Association (LTSA) on April 30.
LTSA has held this free event for about 15 years now for children 12 and under at the club’s pond in Marsh Creek. Each youth is required to register for the event and must be accompanied by an accompanying adult for the derby. The chaperone is needed to make sure the fish are the only ones hooked and of course to make sure none of the little ones fall into the pond. Dads, moms and grandfathers were nearby to help their youngsters who were a little disgusted to touch the bait worms and pull the fish out of their hooks.
Anglers who arrived early were able to see the 250 tiger trout released into the pond for the fishing tournament. Over 50 registered children received free bait containers which had been generously donated by Dana Martin and her family. The Martins are the owners of Lakewoods Outdoor Supply LLC, located at 263 East Main St. in Howard.
Trout for the derby were purchased from the Cedar Springs Trout Hatchery located along the Jacksonville Road area in Mill Hall. Five of the trout had a special tag that gave the child who caught it an opportunity to enter the draw for the grand prize, a 2-person K2 Intex inflatable kayak, donated by Mark Barner. Barner was the chairman of the fishing tournament this year. His assistant, Orie Hanley, III, wielded a microphone and served as announcer during the day of the derby.
The pond was lined with children fishing and onlookers anxiously watching their bobbers disappear, signaling the possibility of a catch. Barner paced the edge of the pond and periodically let out a cry of “Next Fish” which meant that the next child to bring home a fish was allowed to choose from a multitude of prizes they had donated for the event. Fishing rods, bait boxes, float packs, nets, measuring boards, hats and fishing vests are just a few of the many items the children selected.
Lucas Killinger, a little guy who looked only about three years old, was the only child to catch one of the tagged trout the morning before the “lunch time” announcement was made. The excitement of the morning had proved too much for Lucas as he was “take a nap” thus the grand prize inflatable kayak was claimed for Lucas by his aunt, Rhonda Confer.
After everyone headed to the clubhouse for a free lunch of hot dogs and a paper bag of cookies, chips and a drink, attendees had the option of buying chances for two prizes. brightly-wrapped attendance cards and a 50-50 draw. which would be fired.
Stapled to the lunch bag was a raffle ticket for the draw where each ticket was called out and each child stepped forward to choose from a host of prizes that had been kindly donated by the LTSA. Fishing rods in the colors blue, green and orange, tackle boxes in a variety of colors, as well as other items had been purchased by the club so that each child present received a nice gift for their participation.
The first door prize was won by Wayne Warefield of Bellefonte who has a camper at the LTSA Campground. The second door prize was won by 3-year-old Ronnie Munro, who was attending the fishing derby with his mother, Amy Abbotts, of Lock Haven. The door prizes were a fishing combo kit and a new fishing vest.
The winner of the $90 50-50 draw was Terri Hollobaugh, who generously donated $50 to the club.
The kitchen staff were brought into the limelight and given gifts as “Thank you” for their help in preparing and serving the food for the derby. Butch and Linda Hanley, Jimmy Losch, Todd Rupert, Dawn Bechdel, Leona Swartz and Ruth Ann Witmer also received a round of applause for taking care of food and backstage necessities for the kids’ fishing derby . day. Barner presented to men “Old Stopwatch” knives in sheaths while the ladies were each given a new fishing rod they could take to the pond and use later in the day.
It’s not just tiger trout that live in the club’s pond. We saw a few foot long catfish and a few small sunfish caught during the early morning hours of the derby. Once the contest was over, the pond was open for fishing by anyone in it. Several men, children and entire families were seen heading to the pond, lawn chairs and fishing gear in tow, to try their luck at catching more trout. The pond is spring-fed and is about 12 feet deep in the center.
The Liberty Township Sportsmen’s Association is located at 1140 Marsh Creek Road, Howard. The property and association offers a clubhouse, playground, trailer campground, rifle and pistol ranges, and a lighted trapline and skeet field. Marsh Creek which borders the property is a stocked trout stream. Visit the LTSA website at libertysportsmen.com for more information about the club and the events held there.