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Fishes and wishes

 

ELIZABETH TOWNSHIP — Grace Collier sat in a chair, snuggled under a heavy blanket Thursday morning, holding a fishing pole and watching the fish swim past in Lake Vesuvius.

“I can remember fishing once when I was a girl,” Collier said. “And they (at River’s Bend Health Care) took me fishing another time but this is the first time I’ve been here.”

Collier and a dozen or so other River’s Bend residents joined a couple hundred other senior citizens and mentally or physically challenged Lawrence County residents for the annual Wheelin’ Sportsman Fishing Day, sponsored by the South Hills Longbeards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, the Wayne National Forest and a number of other local groups and agencies.

Jacob “Bob” Thompson, a sixth grader at Rock Hill Middle School, shows off the first catch of the day.

The free event allowed people who may not be able to fish or participate in outdoor sports because of physical or mental handicaps to enjoy a day of fresh air activity.

WNF Ironton District Ranger Tim Slone said a handicapped-accessible archery facility near the lake boardwalk was open for use as well. Recently 800 feet with 10 new targets had been added.

In addition to the forest service and the NWTF, City National Bank brought food for a cookout and prizes.

“You don’t even have to leave your seat,” NWTF President Larry Kingery said. “They will bring your food to you.”

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources released 3,250 trout into the lake.

“This is more than they usually do,” Slone said. “This is awesome.”

The Lawrence County Bass Club lended its assistance, as did the Symmes Valley High School Future Farmers of America. FFA member Cheryl Crawford circulated among the fishing hopefuls with food and napkins.

“I wanted to help and I hope this inspires more people to get out and volunteer,” Crawford said.

The first fish of the day was a blue gill hauled up on the hook of Rock Hill student Jacob Thompson. As Thompson and a helper strode off to find a waiting prize, fellow student Terry Hackworth kept an eye on his line, hoping no doubt for luck to strike again. Asked how big a fish he hoped to catch, Hackworth replied, “ I guess five feet.”

The next fishing event at Lake Vesuvius is the Kids Fishing Derby May 19.