Warm breezes and sun after a light morning shower greeted 175 young anglers and their families who gathered Saturday, June 6, at three Delaware ponds for DNREC’s 29th Annual Youth Fishing Tournament. All fish caught in the tournament were weighed and released, as young anglers got a first-hand lesson in conservation.
The New Castle County location, Lums Pond in Bear, drew 81 children and young teens casting lines, while at Kent County’s Wyoming Pond, 23 youngsters turned out. Sussex County reeled in 71 young anglers at Ingrams Pond in Millsboro. Fish species caught included catfish, white perch, yellow perch, largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, carp, golden shiner and pumpkinseed.
When the day was done, 13-year-old Kelly Phillips of Frankford came out as overall statewide winner, as well as the Sussex County winner, with fish weighing in at a total of 4.08 pounds.
The biggest fish of the day — all of them largemouth bass — were caught by: Shelly Mutschler, 9, of Seaford, 2.5 pounds; Katrina Wigmore, 10, of Smyrna, 1.41 pounds; and Anthony Sylvestro, 11, of Pennsville, N.J., 2.34 pounds.
The smallest fish of the day were caught by: Jonathan Pollock, 7, of Middletown, 0.019-pound sunfish; Steven Swann, 15, of Dover, 0.02-pound bluegill; and Autumn Tice, 14, of Milford, 0.03-pound mummichog.
The winners received fishing rods and tackle boxes, as well as trophies, and all participants received prizes. 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 30, at the 2015 Delaware State Fair in Harrington.
In addition to Sussex County and statewide winner Kelly Phillips, other Sussex County winners at Ingrams Pond, by age group and total weight of fish caught, were:
• Ages 4 through 7 — first place, Luke Hitchens, 7, of Dagsboro, 1.54 pounds; second place, Kylie Henry, 5, of Chadds Ford, Pa., 1.04 pounds; honorable mention, Brayden Stewart, 2, of Georgetown, 1.66 pounds;
• Ages 8 through 11 — first place, Camrin Croney, 9, of Ocean View, 2.54 pounds; second place, Shelly Mutschler, 9, of Seaford, 2.52 pounds; third place, Andrew Wertz, 8, of Lewes, 2.16 pounds;
• Ages 12 through 15 — first place, Dylan Fodi, 14, of Millsboro, 1.89 pounds; second place, Jamin DePasquale, 14, of Millsboro, 1.30 pounds; third place, Robert Thompson, 13, of Millsboro, 1.15 pounds.
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.
Dewey Beach Lions, Lewes Harbour Marina supported the Youth Fishing Tournament with $2,050 donation On May 27, the Dewey Beach Lions Club presented a check for $2,050 to the Fish & Wildlife Volunteer Association to benefit the Youth Fishing Tournament. The money was raised from the Lewes Harbour Marina Flounder Tournament held on May 15.
Lewes Harbour Marina and the Dewey Beach Lions Club have been strong supporters over the years, assisting Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police with monetary support for outreach activities.
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.