Kids participate in free Marsh Creek fishing derby
MARSH CREEK — A sunny blue sky 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 been hosting this free event for 15 years or so now for children who are 12 and younger at the club’s pond in Marsh Creek. Each youngster is required to register for the event and must have an adult chaperone for the derby. The chaperone is needed to make certain that the fish are the only things getting hooked and, of course, to make sure that none of the little ones fall into the pond. Dads, moms and grandpas were close by to help their youngsters who were a little squeamish with touching bait worms and taking fish off their hooks.
Those anglers who arrived early got to see the 250 Tiger trout released into the pond for the fishing derby. More than 50 registered kids were provided with free containers of bait that had been generously donated by Dana Martin and his family. The Martin’s are the owners of Lakewoods Outdoor Supply LLC that is located at 263 East Main St. in Howard.
The trout for the derby were purchased from the Cedar Springs Trout Hatchery located along the Jacksonville Road area of Mill Hall. Five of the trout wore a special tag that was an opportunity for the child catching it to be entered into a drawing for the grand prize, a K2 Intex 2-man inflatable kayak, that was donated by Mark Barner. Barner was the fishing derby chairman this year. His assistant, Orie Hanley, III, wielded a microphone and served as the announcer during the derby day.
The pond was lined with kids fishing and spectators who were anxiously watching their bobbers to disappear signaling the possibility of a catch. Barner would pace the pond’s edge and periodically would give a shout of “Next Fish,” which meant the next child to reel in a fish was allowed to pick from a host of prizes that he had donated for the event. Fishing rods, bait boxes, packs of bobbers, nets, fish measuring boards, hats and fishing vests and were just a few of the many items that the children selected.
Lucas Killinger, a little fella who looked to be only about three years old, was the only child to catch one of the tagged trout during the morning before the “lunch time” announcement was made. The morning’s excitement had proved too much for Lucas as he was “catching a nap” so the grand prize inflatable kayak was claimed for Lucas by his aunt, Rhonda Confer.
Once everyone had meandered to the club house for a free lunch of hot dogs and a paper bag that held cookies, chips and a drink, there was an opportunity for those attending to purchase chances for two brightly wrapped door prizes and a 50-50 raffle that would be drawn.
Stapled to the lunch bag was a raffle ticket for the drawing where each ticket was called and each child came forward to choose from a host of prizes that had graciously been donated by the LTSA. Fishing rods in the colors of blue, green and orange, tackle boxes in a variety of colors, along with other items had been purchased by the club so that every child in attendance received a nice gift for attending.
The first door prize was won by Wayne Warefield of Bellefonte who has a camper at the LTSA’s campground. The second door prize was won by Ronnie Munro, 3, 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 50-50 drawing winner of $90 was Terri Hollobaugh, who generously made a $50 donation back to the club.
The kitchen staff was brought to the front of the stage and presented with gifts as a “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 were given a round of applause as well for taking care of the food and behind-the-scenes things needed for the kid’s fishing derby day. Barner presented the men with “Old Timer” knives in sheaths while the ladies were each given a new fishing rod that they could take to the pond and use later that day.
There’s more than just tiger trout living in the club’s pond. We saw a few foot-long catfish and some small sun fish being caught during the morning hours of the derby. Once the contest was over, the pond was open to fishing by anyone there. Several men, children and entire families were seen headed back to the pond, lawn chairs and fishing gear in tow, to try their luck at catching more of the trout. The pond is spring water fed and is about 12′ deep in the center.
Liberty Township Sportsmen’s Association is located at 1140 Marsh Creek Road, Howard. The property and association offers a club house, playground area, trailer camping ground, both rifle and pistol shooting ranges and a lighted trap and skeet field. The Marsh Creek stream that borders the property is a trout stocked stream. Visit the LTSA’s website at libertysportsmen.com for more information about the club and events held there.