By RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY
PDT Staff Writer
Lines will cross the water at Turkey Creek Lake this weekend, during the 47th annual Portsmouth Jaycees’ Trout Derby at Shawnee State Park in Friendship.
“There are usually folks from several different counties and different states who come in for this. It’s packed down there,” said Curtis DePuy of Portsmouth Jaycees.
About 4,000 fish will be released into the pond on Friday in preparation for the competition, which will begin at 6 a.m. Saturday and continue until 2 p.m. that day. Shawnee Park Manager Martin McAllister said participants will be divided into three groups; teens (13-17), adults (18-59), and seniors (60 and older).
Fish will be judged at the measuring station, located at the boat dock. Prizes will given for the longest fish. This year’s grand prize is a new gas grill.
McAllister said all fishermen, ages 17 and older, must have a valid fishing license. Fishermen can catch and release as many fish as they’d like, he said, but are allowed to take home no more than five each.
Children under age 13 can also participate by trying to catch one of the specially tagged fished released into the kiddie pond. Several hundred fish will be released into the pond for children, but only 75 will be tagged. The first 50 children to arrive on Saturday will receive a free T-shirt, and prizes will be awarded for catching a tagged fish.
“This is just one of those things we started that we continue to do. It’s a tradition. It’s like the (Jaycees) Christmas parade. It’s just one of things where we can do something for the kids and for the community at the same time,” DePuy said.
“We’re also going to have a kids practice casting area for little kids that would like to practice on land. We’ll have weights on lines and these rubber fish that lie out on the ground, and they’ll be taught how to cast and snag those,” McAllister said.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife will also have an electro-fishing demonstration at the Roosevelt Shelter House, at the campground, at 2:30 p.m. and again at 4:30 p.m. The process involves a special generator wired to special nets and mounted to the boat. An electric current is run through a small portion of the lake, which causes the fish to be unable to swim properly, and they can be scooped right up out of the water.
“It’s a quick way to do fish sampling, and it doesn’t harm the fish. The fish will be shocked, netted, brought in and put in an aquarium to display for a short period of time so people can see and learn about them, then they’ll be released back into the water,” McAllister said.
McAllister said people can continue to fish at the lake after the competition ends at 2 p.m., but will not be eligible for the Trout Derby prizes.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or firstname.lastname@example.org.