As the lines were in the water by a modest group of fishermen Saturday afternoon at Turkey Creek Lake for the Jaycees Annual Trout Derby, about a mile away, 90 disabled children and disabled veterans were having their own trout derby.
The Duckworth True Lure Trout Derby began in the early morning hours, and as the sun warmed up more children and veterans came out, regardless of their disability, they were reeling in the fish with the help of family members and volunteers present.
Each of the around 90 participants received a fishing rod and reel, with a backpack full of tackle, a deer call, and a turkey call. Organizer Todd Dunn said the fishing accessories were made possible through a donation from Union Sportsmen. A representative, of the group, Joe Cryster, said his group looks for events to help sponsor and when they heard this special trout derby was going to happen, they wanted to participate. Local Painters Union 97 representative Gary Messer of Portsmouth was instrumental in getting Union Sportsmen involved, according to Cryster.
Cryster said Union Sportsmen is involved in conservation and protecting nature. He said in southern Ohio “everybody hunts something.” He went on to say residents are fishing, hunting, even hunting mushrooms this time of year.
Claude Duckworth, a US Military Veteran who the derby was named for was present, saying he was fishing around 8:30 but hadn’t caught a fish yet. He said he never imagined he would see such an event as what was happening Saturday. He said it was more than he ever expected. “A lot of good people,” Duckworth said of those who worked to make everything come together.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources helped set up the area with a net in the lake to keep the trout from moving downstream. ODNR officials were also on hand to assist in any way they could on Saturday. Shawnee State Park Manager Ryan Bartley said the event is the first and only such event that he knows of and said he would like to see it grow in the future.
A few of the organizers, including Dunn, were on hand at 4 am Saturday making sure that everyone who showed up would leave with a positive experience. Over the last several months, Dunn has been working with people from Union Sportsmen, as well as other local people such as Stuart Baldwin of Portsmouth Air Evac 97, who supplied food to all those in attendance and Tim Horton’s who supplied doughnuts and coffee Saturday morning.
Dunn also created a device for those with limited or no use of their arms. He invented a pole holder in which the pole, after being cast with the help of a volunteer, can be placed in the holder which is attached to the person’s leg. By doing so, if a person has use of only one hand, they can reel the fish in with their good hand, or as was the case of one fisherman Saturday, reel a fish in using his feet.
The weather was very cooperative up into the afternoon until the rains moved in. No report had been made as of press time on the winning fish caught in both the trout derby as well as the Duckworth True Lure Trout Derby.
Reach Mark Richard at 740-370-0707 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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