Four-year-old Sam Sharman wasn’t having much luck trying to catch fish, but he wasn’t throwing in the towel yet, either. Rather, he was moving to a different location to cast out into the quiet waters of Oak Island Park in Waterloo.

Geneva residents Dave and Maureen Sharman are the young angler’s grandparents. They were encouraging Sam — or at least trying to help a 4-year-old’s mind stay on the task at hand.

“I heard about this event because I work at the Finger Lakes Credit Union,” Maureen said. “They are one of the sponsors.”

Asked if he likes fishing, young Sam quickly replied, “Yes.”

The 16th annual Finger Lakes Conservation Club Free Kids Fishing Day was similar to its 15 previous iterations in that it was a smash success.

“Our morning started shortly after 6 a.m.,” event coordinator Ed Mitchell said. “We loaded trailers with pre-staged supplies of tables, chairs and everything needed to run our event and feed around 350 people. Shortly before 7 it started to sprinkle, just enough to make us worry.

“Before long, the sun came out and it was ‘game on,’ picture perfect for a morning of fishing. We had 180 children registered this year, a little short of our goal of 200.”

At 10:30 a.m. there was excitement at one of the docks that extend into the park water. That’s when 5-year-old Maggie Reed hooked a sunfish. She would not touch the fish, so her mom, Jeneve, held the pole and line for a photo op.

Mother and daughter are from Waterloo. This was their first year fishing the event.

After the sunfish was released, Maggie proudly announced, “I think I should fish some more.”

Mitchell said next year the organizing group will work harder to get the word out since their goal is always to end the day with all 200 poles gone.

The members of Finger Lakes Conservation Club thanked all the sponsors that make the event possible.

“It is because of their generosity that we are able to put this event on for our community,” Mitchell said. “I encourage everyone to read our sponsor boards, and support those who support us.

“It takes a lot of planning each year to have a successful day, but it’s all worth it when you see the fun that the children and families are having. The members that volunteer to work for this event our proud to be able to host this day. Most of us hunt and fish and want to see more children involved in these types of outdoor activities.”

Wayne County Youth Derby underway

The Wayne County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs and the Wayne County Soil & Water Conservation District are keeping the tradition of fishing alive and well with their annual Wayne County Youth Derby. It began Monday.

The event, celebrating its 23rd year, gives youngsters the opportunity to enjoy angling while offering a little competition.

“The Wayne County Soil & Water Conservation District Board of Directors supports continuing conservation with youth and wholeheartedly voted to include this in our program repertoire for 2019 and moving forward,” District Manager Lindsey Gerstenslager said. “The Youth Fishing Derby partnership between Wayne County sportsman federation, Wayne County Tourism, and the district is an awesome opportunity to expand and continue the conservation efforts for the future of exposure of youth to the great outdoors.”

To be eligible for prizes in the Al Shultz Youth Memorial Challenge, children must be 4-7 years old at the time of registration. Angler must catch one of each of the five species: bluegill, perch, rock bass, sunfish and smallmouth or largemouth bass. Perch must weight at least 6 ounces.

Each fish will be recorded according to date and time recorded on the weigh-in form.

Bluegill, rock bass and sunfish do not need to be weighed, but must be taken to the weigh station to be entered contest.

The Challenge division remains the same. It has the same criteria, although the five fish to qualify are warm-water species: pike, perch, walleye, smallmouth bass, and largemouth bass.

Species is the third division. The largest fish in any division is a winner.

The contest ends July 28. The awards ceremony is noon to 2 p.m. Aug. 4 at the Sodus Point Firehall.

For more information and a complete list of registration sites, call (315) 946-7200; stop in at the Wayne Soil & Water Conservation District office at 7312 Route 31 in Lyons; visit www.waynecountyNYsoilandwater.org; or email KidsDerby@WayneNYswcd.org.

Chris Kenyon’s “Outdoors” appears every other Sunday. Contact Chris at (315) 879-1341 or ckenyonrun@gmail.com.

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