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Conquering the great outdoors

Markus Dust, of Pedro, takes part in the youth fishing derby at Lake Vesuvius on Saturday morning.

Markus Dust, of Pedro, takes part in the youth fishing derby at Lake Vesuvius on Saturday morning.

National Wild Turkey Federation fishing derby brings out youth

Children and their families lined up around Lake Vesuvius Saturday for the annual youth fishing derby, hosted by the Wayne National Forest and the South Hills Longbeards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF).

“We’ve been doing this for about six to eight years,” Chris Hayes, vice president of the NWTF chapter, said. “It’s an opportunity for youth to come out and enjoy being outdoors fishing under safe conditions.”

The derby had contests for most fish caught and largest fish caught for each age group of 4-6, 7-11 and 12-16. First place winners received a fishing pole, second place winners took home a tackle box and third place winners were awarded flashlights. Numerous door prizes were given out as well.

“The kids enjoy being with their friends and fishing for the opportunity to win some nice prizes,” Hayes said. “It’s something different than other activities they might do, and a lot of times this is the only opportunity they get to go fishing, see the bobber go down, bait the hook and catch fish.”

Patrick Mercer, Wayne National Forest wildlife biologist, said the derby allows children to fish at numerous locations around the lake.

“A lot of the kids come because they’ve been here before, but also because they’re able to fish a number of different spots along the walk and the shore,” he said. “There’s a number of different species that they can catch; bass, rainbow trout, catfish. It’s popular because of the variety and the ease of access to Lake Vesuvius.”

For Riley Cade, 11, of Ironton, the derby is something he enjoys.

“I just like fishing because I think it’s calming,” he said. “And you get to catch fish.”

Also from Ironton, Dominic Dixon, 11, said it was his first time at the event.

“I just like to see what kind of fish you catch after you cast your line,” he said. “I want to come back next year.”

Also available at the event was the JAKES (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmenship) Take Aim inflatable shooting range trailer, where children had the opportunity to shoot Red Ryder BB guns at targets.

Fifty-four children, 34 parents and about 50 volunteers participated in this year’s derby.

Another youth fishing event hosted by the local Lawrence County Izaak Walton League Chapter is set for Saturday, June 11 at the Izaak Walton League, located at 554 Township Road 140 E. in Pedro.