Fishing has long been a favorite pastime for fathers to share with their children. On June 16 — Father’s Day weekend — Delaware State Park will host its annual youth fishing derby at its youth fishing pond, in conjunction with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Delaware Fish and Game Club, Waldo Sportsman Club and Norton Sporting Goods.
Youth 15 years old and younger are invited to come out and experience the joy of fishing. There will be three time slots available at 9, 10 and 11 a.m. The first 100 children to register for each time will be allowed to participate, and the earlier times typically fill the quickest. Fish also tend to be more active in the morning. Registration is as simple as showing up, parking in the marina parking lot, and walking to the registration tent by the pond.
Family and friends are welcome to come out and watch, and celebrate the thrills of catching fish with the young anglers.
The pond is stocked with catfish and bluegills, and all poles, tackle, and bait will be provided at the event. However, if participants already have a favorite pole, they are more than welcome to use it. If interested, volunteers will be on hand to clean the fish and send participants home with the day’s catch to enjoy for dinner.
Every participant will receive a prize, donated by the Delaware Fish and Game Club, at the end of their hour, along with a lunch consisting of a hot dog, chips, and a pop or water.
Marty Webb, a ranger at the Delaware Dam, estimates the event has been held for at least 25 years that he can remember, and the event has been a success every year. Webb has been a part of the fishing derby since 1999 and still holds the same excitement each year for the event.
“It’s the smiling faces on the kids,” Webb said. “A lot of the time it’s father-son or father-daughter, and it’s Father’s Day weekend. I think that is a great way to spend time with your children. But there are plenty of moms that come out, too, and bring their kids out. It’s always been about that smiling face and that first fish they catch. The whole family experience.”
Bobber the Water Safety Dog will also be on hand to promote water safety, and each kid will receive Bobber’s water safety book.
Webb said it is very common for participants to be fishing for the first time, and he hopes a great experience at the derby will lead to them wanting to fish more in the future, especially with family. In Ohio, children 15 years or younger do not need a fishing license in order to fish.
“It’s just a neat, family experience where they can come and have some fun, enjoy the park, and hopefully, catch some fish,” Webb said.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @ddavis_gazette.