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Fish Stories: Ones that didn’t get away

ELIZABETH TOWNSHIP — Four-year-old Austin Bump had some great expectations as he stood next to his sister, Caidie, on the boardwalk at Lake Vesuvius Saturday morning.

The annual Wayne National Forest Lake Vesuvius Kids Fishing Derby promised high adventure, the Ironton youngster just knew, and he would be soon holding the big one that didn’t get away.

“He’s got some imagination,” his mom, Brandy Bump, mused. “He wants to catch a shark and she wants to catch a dolphin. Ever since we went to the ocean …”

Austin waited patiently with his little rod and reel hoisted out over the railing. By 10 o’clock, that shark was nowhere in sight. What about the blue gill and rainbow trout?

“Not yet, but I keep going,” Austin said. “She (his sister) got a fish but it got off somehow.”

If young Austin was looking for a shark, that was more than OK with Lawrence County Bass Club Member Jim Adkins, who had been at the lake since 6:30 a.m. getting ready for the day.

While the youth and their parents tossed bobbers into the water, Adkins had a ready supply of meal worms to hand out and some rods and reels, too.

What made Adkins and other volunteers get out of bed at dawn on a Saturday and trudge down to a lake front, with the threat of rain looming?

“The kids,” Adkins said promptly.

The event is hosted each year by the Wayne National Forest and in partnership with the Lawrence County Bass Club, Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife, Izaak Walton League and Ohio University Southern Nature Center.

Ironton District Ranger Tim Sloan said he was pleased with the turnout in part because the event seemed sandwiched between spates of rain. He was also pleased to introduce youngsters to the WNF and what it has to offer.

“For those of us who wear these green uniforms, we enjoy the outdoors and want to see kids have an opportunity to appreciate the outdoors, too,” Sloan said.

The day was an opportunity for some groups to educate the kids about the environment and responsible stewardship of the land and the lakes and the creatures that live in them.

The Lawrence Soil And Water Conservation District and Symmes Creek Restoration Society were among the groups that had exhibits.

Everything from snakes, to canoes to insects and animal pelts were on display when the kids took a breather from the fishing.

Volunteers from the Izaak Walton League were on hand to help budding young anglers become seasoned pros as well.

The IWL will have a fishing day for veterans from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 5 at its lake On Texas Hollow Road near Waterloo.