Hundreds cast lines into newly-stocked Vesuvius

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 10, 2004

PEDRO - Ironton resident Tom Cutlip likes to fish but the hobby has been absent from his life for more than a decade.

Battling multiple sclerosis, Cutlip has been confined to a wheelchair for the past ten years and unable to access most local fishing spots - until now.

Cutlip and his family were just a few of hundreds of people who visited Lake Vesuvius Friday for the "Wheelin' Sportsmen Fishing Day" event that utilized the new boardwalk to provide handicapped access to the recently filled lake.

Email newsletter signup

"I haven't fished in a long, long time," Cutlip said. "I think I will come back now that they have got it set up like this."

Pat Cutlip said she was truly impressed with the improvements and what it means for her husband and others who may not be able to hike along the lake shore.

"This is wonderful," she said. "I teach the handicapped at Ironton High School. If this was a school day, we would all be here."

Lake Vesuvius was drained in January 2001 and much of the 143-acre recreation area within the Wayne National Forest has been closed while a 1,400 foot boardwalk and fishing pier that connects the boat ramp with the dam was constructed. Improvements were also made to the dam and boat ramp.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Wildlife stocked the lake with more than 1,200, 10- to 13-inch trout earlier in the day to make the event sponsored by South Hills chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation possible.

"It was an awesome turnout of several hundred people," said Buddy Fry, president of the South Hills chapter and the state NWTF. "We just love the opportunity to help these people get out here and do something they would not be able to do otherwise."

John Butler, a resident at Bryant Health Center, said he appreciated the opportunity to sit along the lake in his wheelchair and cast his line into the greenish-brown waters.

"I like it out here," he said. "I think this is real important because people don't have anything like this around here."

Many of the visitors were just locals who were interested in taking advantage of the blue-skied, spring day and checking out the new improvements.

For 7-year-old Jessica Morris, half the fun was just trying to snag a big catch, even though she did not have much luck Friday.

"The best part is when you catch a fish," she said. "A while ago, (my bobber) went under but came back up. They were nibbling on my bait."

Michael Massie of Kitts Hill fared better.

The 14-year-old angler caught a 12-inch trout, which reminded him how much he missed being able to fish at the lake.

"I just like coming here, hanging out and fishing," he said. "It is relaxing."

The NWTF and the forest officials are already looking at hosting the event again next year, Fry said.

"They said this was a one-time thing, but that was before everyone got here this morning," he joked.