Young Anglers Invited to 20th Annual Youth Fishing Derby

Staunton Parks and Recreation to host May 4th event at Lake Tams in Gypsy Hill Park

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STAUNTON, VA (04/29/2013)(readMedia)-- The Staunton Parks and Recreation Department will be hosting the 20th Annual Fishing Derby. The date of the event is Saturday, May 4th at Lake Tams in Gypsy Hill Park. The event is free and on-site registration begins at 7:30am.

History: About 20 years ago, there was a push through the National Recreation and Park Association along with other groups like the Isaac Walton League and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to introduce the sport of fishing to youngsters. The idea was to create awareness and provide an opportunity for exposure to fishing through a nationwide event organized at the grassroots level by local parks and recreation departments. In the beginning, the sponsoring agencies would receive "kits" in the mail filled with goodies to give to the participants who attended the event like lures, bait, hooks, and big prizes like fishing poles. In the beginning Wal-Mart was one of the main corporate sponsors. A lot has changed since then, now there are basically no corporate sponsors (not even Wal-Mart) though the state agency, The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries stocks the lake before the event at a discounted price. The DGIF also provides experts to weigh and measure the fish caught at the actual event. Today, the City of Staunton Parks and Recreation Department has collaborated with about 40 businesses and individuals (through donations) to carry on the annual event and to provide over $2500 in prizes. BB&T Bank, Shell Mart of Churchville Avenue, K-mart in Waynesboro and Cash Convenience Store are the largest sponsors/donors. The Staunton Eagles Lodge, through their agent Will Helmick, provide trophies in seven categories from largest trout to "1st to Catch The Limit". At the time of registration, all kids receive a goodie bag filled with treats like Little Debbie cakes, chips from Kitchen Cook' d, free meal cards donated by Arby's, Cash Convenience Store matched Arby's by donating 200 free meal cards, Cattails candy and fishing-related items like lures, bobbers and bait. Wait.. wait, there's more, each participant also receives a ticket for a free drink and hotdog that can be cashed in during the event. The VFW Post 7814 will provide volunteers to grill the wieners and organize concessions. BB&T Bank are also providing volunteers for the event. Last year, over 200 youth participated at the Annual Fishing Derby.

Why we do it: Here at Staunton Parks and Recreation, we love providing outdoor recreation activities that encourage interaction with nature, and promoting an appreciation for natural resources and the outdoors. This special event is one of our best efforts to connect youth to nature in a fun environment that is in close proximity to home. Indicative of the number of event contributors, the whole community has really pitched in to make this event very special by donating money, prizes, treats, food, gift cards, trophies, human resources, etc.

Additional tidbits: Most of the winners in the various categories will receive fishing poles, nets and tackle boxes as well as a trophy. Young anglers from ages 4-15 do not need a fishing license for the event. However, this is different from our Senior Fishing Derby held on May 18th – since Seniors are above the age of 16, they will need a fishing license. The official cutoff age for the Senior Fishing Derby is 50 years and above.

This will be the first year ever that we will actually have several Game Wardens on-site during the event. They will bring their special trained dog to demonstrate how they locate illegal catches. The dogs will exhibit the ability to count, sniff and communicate with their handlers.

The Lake is posted "no fishing" the day before and the morning of the event. The Lake is stocked the day before the event and the "no fishing" rule is enforced by Staunton Police Department and the Game Wardens from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. With this restriction in place prior to the event, we anticipate the fish will be biting by the time the horn sounds at 8am to cast your line.