Kids came from all over with rods, reels and tackle boxes to fish for trout behind the high school in Rocky Gap Saturday morning as part of the Youth Fishing Day sponsored by the Bland County Many Beards chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation.
Sixty-three children registered to fish, and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries poured more than 500 pounds of trout into the Laurel Creek before any lines were cast.
“Even with the water levels up from the hard rains, we had eight kids who caught their limit of six fish within the first hour,” said Goldie Kiser, who helped organized the annual event.
One of the little fishermen having some luck was Tyler Crockett of Wytheville, who caught three trout early on with help from his father, Christopher Crockett.
“We came last year and had a blast,” said Tyler’s mom, Vikki Redman. She said they planned to fillet their catch and eat them over the weekend.
Addison Sons, 7, didn’t have much luck fishing, but enjoyed playing with K-9 Officer Josie, who was there with her human handler Virginia NWTF Officer of the Year Wes Billings.
“I tried, but I didn’t get nothing,” Sons said. “I fished in my neighbor’s pond before, but not in a creek without bobbers.”
One lucky fisherman was Alaina Begley, who fished with her father, Jacob Begley, and landed six trout in just over an hour.
“The fifth one was the biggest one, Alaina said.
Her dad said he planned to fillet and bake the fish.
“Oh, yeah, we’ll eat them tonight,” he said.
"This was our first year working with Bland County's new VA DGIF Conservation Officer Craig Chillcott,” said Many Beards President Randy Kiser. “He worked with us on Friday evening to get everything set up and then came back on Saturday. He answered lots of questions from kids and adults on fishing and game laws and helped kids whenever he could. Officer Chillcott was a tremendous asset to our Kids Fishing Day this year."
Kiser said that the chapter’s JAKES (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship) coordinators, Rita and Sammy Lambert, work hard year-round on events and activities like Youth Fishing day to engage local children in outdoor activities. The JAKES schedule is on the Bland County Many Beards Facebook page.
Many of the kids who registered won door prizes sponsored by the NWTF and Akers Towing. Additional door prizes were donated by Arby's and Love's.
After a morning of fishing, everyone was treated to a hot dog lunch prepared by longtime Many Beards member Jimmy Miller of Trent’s Grocery.
“Jimmy has worked hard for years on all of our programs, but he works extra hard on our kids events" Kiser said. "We are blessed with a dedicated core group of volunteers like Jimmy and his family."
Other volunteers this year included Chris Hatcher, Dreama Hatcher, Rodney Ratliff, Sherry Miller, Trenton Miller, Jared Simpson, Goldie Kiser, Tracy Cruey, Todd Havens, Todd Akers, Tim Wellman, Ashley Holbrook, Eden Holbrook, Debbie Akers, Rodney Morgan, Chris Atwell and Jeremy Elliott.
Roger Lee and Tom Plott with QDMA WVVA Branch were also on hand with an interesting display on deer management efforts in the area.
To reach reporter Millie Rothrock, call 276-228-6611, ext. 35, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.