Vesuvius to host #039;Wheelin#039; Sportsmen#039;

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 6, 2004

PEDRO - Some anglers will have the chance to haul a catch out of Lake Vesuvius for the first time in more than three years Friday, but improvements may open up the lake to others for the first time ever.

The Ohio Division of Wildlife will stock Lake Vesuvius with 1,000, 10- to 13-inch rainbow trout at 11 a.m. Friday,

just in time for the "Wheelin' Sportsmen Fishing Day" event that kicks off at 1 p.m. that day.

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Sponsored by the South Hills Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, the one-day fishing event will allow anglers restricted by age or disabilities to fish in the recently-refilled lake by taking advantage of the newly built boardwalk.

"The goal is to just give the opportunity for those who wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to fish, get outdoors and enjoy the new facility at Lake Vesuvius," said Buddy Fry, president of the South Hills chapter and the state NWTF.

The event is free and open to the public. No private boats will be allowed in the area during the event. Lawrence County native Howie Damron will provide entertainment at the event.

"We would like the public to be aware of this. The more public support and interest means more events we can hold," Fry said. "It takes a lot of help from the community. The more people willing to help, the more we can do."

An event such as this one is now possible because the Forest Service built a quarter-mile long boardwalk that connects the boat dock and dam.

"It was built with a gentle grade, has safety railings and has benches for resting," Ironton District Ranger Gloria Chrismer said in a written release. "The boardwalk makes it possible for persons young and old, even if they are physically challenged, to fish at Lake Vesuvius."

Thousands of physically challenged people who enjoy the outdoors reside in Ohio and many live in the Lawrence County area, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

The gate to the boat ramp area will be unlocked at 10 a.m. for mobility impaired arrivals and parking at the dock is reserved for them so that wheelchairs and scooters may be loaded and unloaded.

The "Wheelin' Sportsman" is one of three outreach programs established by the National Wild Turkey Federation intended to provide physically challenged individuals as well as women and children opportunities to participate in outdoor activities such as fishing, hunting, bird watching and others.

Free Ohio fishing licenses are available for Ohio residents with certain levels of disability. Applications for these licenses are available at the Ironton District Ranger Office on State Route 93 in Pedro. Event participants must follow all Ohio Department of Natural Resources rules and regulations for fishing.

For more fishing or licensing information, call ODNR's Division of Wildlife Information Line at 1-800-WILDLIFE (1-800-945-3543).

Anyone interested in participating should contact Eddie Park at the WNF Ironton Ranger District at (740) 534-6534 to receive more information. Anyone who would like to volunteer during the event, call 867-8475.