Sunny summer weather greeted 173 young anglers and their families who gathered Saturday, June 4, at three Delaware ponds for DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police 30th Annual Youth Fishing Tournament. All fish caught in the tournament were weighed and released, as young anglers got a firsthand lesson in conservation.
The New Castle County location, Lums Pond in Bear, drew 86 children and young teens casting lines, while at Kent County’s Wyoming Pond, 36 youngsters turned out. Sussex County reeled in 51 young anglers at Ingrams Pond near Millsboro. Fish species caught included catfish, white perch, yellow perch, largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, carp, golden shiner and pumpkinseed.
When the day was done, 12-year-old Ethan Wong of Frederica came out as overall statewide winner, as well as the Kent County winner, with fish weighing in at a total of 3.99 pounds.
The biggest fish of the day were caught by: Brandon Feaster, 15, of Camden, 2.7-pound largemouth bass, Wyoming Pond; Brielle Weirzbicki, 10, of Bear, 2-pound largemouth bass, Lums Pond; and Zachary Hicks, 11, of Greenwood, 0.71-pound eel, Ingrams Pond. Also, Elise Britton, 12, of Middletown, last year’s New Castle County winner, caught a 5-pound turtle in Lums Pond.
The smallest fish of the day were caught by: Camrin Croney, 10, of Ocean View, 0.01-pound bluegill; and Jordan Brown, 13, of Delmar, 0.029-pound bluegill.
This year’s county winners and the overall statewide winner will be invited to a special trophy presentation by Delaware Governor Jack Markell on Governor’s Day, Thursday, July 28, at the 2016 Delaware State Fair in Harrington.
In Sussex County, at Ingrams Pond, Luke Hitchens, 9, of Dagsboro, was the day’s overall winner, with a total of 3 pounds of fish. Other Sussex County winners, by age group and total weight of fish caught, were:
• Ages 4 through 7 — first place, John Timmons V, 4, of Georgetown, 2.86 pounds; second place, Kylie Henry, 6, of Chadds Ford, Pa., 1.55 pounds; third place, Emmeliz Vargas, 7, of Milford, 1.11 pounds.
• Ages 8 through 11 — first place, Andrew Wertz, 9, of Lewes, 2.12 pounds; second place, Zachary Hicks, 11, of Greenwood, 1.69 pounds; third place, Camrin Croney, 10, of Ocean View, 1.49 pounds.
• Ages 12 through 15 — first place, Gage Waite, 13, of Seaford, 1.36 pounds; second place, Tyler Karr, 14, of Georgetown, 1.03 pounds.
The winners received fishing rods and tackle boxes, as well as trophies, and all participants received prizes.
This year’s donors and supporters included: in New Castle County, Almars Outboards, Cabela’s, Reynolds Auto Collision and Captain Bones Bait, Tackle & Hunting; in Kent County, Camden Walmart, Williamsville Country Store, American Legion Walter L. Fox Post No. 2, Route 10 Subway and Joel Blessing; and in Sussex County, Georgetown Walmart, Millsboro Food Lion, Long Neck Harris Teeter, Jungle Jim’s, Funland, Lewes Harbour Marina, Lingo Marine, Millsboro Dairy Queen, Short’s Marine, Rick’s Bait & Tackle, B&E Tire & Auto, Megee Motors, Chick-Fil-A, Dewey Beach Lions Club, Suburban Propane, Millsboro McDonald’s, Millsboro Giant Food, Old Inlet Bait & Tackle and White Water Mountain.
The Youth Fishing Tournament was established to introduce youth to the sport of fishing and to teach the catch-and-release approach to conservation. The free tournament, held annually in June, is open to youth ages 4 through 15. For more information on the Youth Fishing Tournament, call (302) 739-9913.
The program is part of Delaware’s Children in Nature Initiative, a statewide effort to improve environmental literacy in Delaware, create opportunities for children to participate in enriching outdoor experiences, combat childhood obesity and promote healthy lifestyles. Delaware’s multi-agency initiative, which partners state and federal agencies with community organizations, is part of the national No Child Left Inside program.