Hooked on making a difference
The first trout caught at the 12th annual Wheelin’ Sportsmen Fishing Day put on by the National Wild Turkey Federation Thursday at Lake Vesuvius belonged to Jeff Hunt of South Point.
Hunt works at the Necco Center and said that part of what they do is help disabled children. Wheelin’ Sportsmen, an outreach of the NWTF, is designed for the disabled to be able to get outand participate in outdoor activities such as fishing.
“The fishing day started in 2004 shortly after the Wheelin’ Sportsmen program was initiated,” Buddy Fry, past president and member of the South Hills Longbeards Chapter of the NWTF, said. “Wheelin’ Sportsmen is a national program and we started this relatively early in the program. It has won many national and state awards.”
The off-and-on rain didn’t stop Open Door School, local nursing homes, the Necco Center, patients brought by the Patriot EMS and residents from all over the county from taking part.
The event started with Tim Sloan, Ironton District Ranger of the Wayne National Forest giving a welcome followed by Fry being introduced and recognizing all of the sponsors. Lawrence County commissioners Les Boggs and Freddie Hayes also spoke and Hayes read the proclamation on behalf of the commissioners that the day was proclaimed as “Wheelin’ Sportsmen Fishing Day” in the county.
The Symmes Valley VFW then retired the colors, the National Anthem was played and thousands of trout were put into the lake from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Kincaid State Fish Hatchery. Finally everyone was ready to get fishing as people lined the boardwalk ready to catch trout.
“Years ago the NWTF approached the forest service and asked if they could use this spot for the fishing event,” Sloan said. “Our part in it is that they needed an accessible place to fish and we serve the public and try to provide them with an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors.”
Along with the Wayne National Forest as the host of the event, other partners include City National Bank providing and cooking lunch, members of the Lawrence County Bass Club and the Izaak Walton League of America taking care of planning and guest assistance, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources stocking the trout and assisting with fishing, and the Collins Career Center and Symmes Valley Future Farmers of America assisting with parking and serving lunch.
“When we first started, it was just us, the forestry and the division of wildlife,” NWTF South Hills Longbeards Chapter president Larry Pernesstti said. “Over the years we’ve grown so much with participants and partners to assist us.”