By RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY
PDT Staff Writer
FRIENDSHIP — Fishermen anxiously look forward to the Jaycees Trout Derby each year, when they get outside to the water. They got a little more water than they bargained for on Saturday, when rain and lightning threatened to wash out the 47th Annual event at Turkey Creek Lake.
“It was cold and wet, and cold and wet again,” said 12-year old fisherman Austin Henry, of Wheelersburg.
Austin came out this year with his father, Lee Green of Wheelersburg. The fish weren’t biting for dad, but Austin reeled in a 12 and a half inch trout. Green has been coming every year since he was a child younger than Austin, and now he enjoys bringing his own kids. He said this was Austin’s first time fishing in the boat in the big lake. Asked how he liked the experience, Austin just repeated for emphasis, “it was cold and it was wet.”
Austin wasn’t the only 12 year old with success this year. Jacob Cantrell, 12, of New Boston wasn’t having much luck with his line, so he tossed them aside and jumped in after the fish. It was a risky strategy, but it paid off when Jacob lifted a 13-inch fish out of the water with his bare hands.
“It’s the first ever trout noodling in Scioto County,” teased one person in his fishing party.
Portsmouth Jaycees President Lori Cooper said attendance this year was good, but the cold and rainy weather definitely kept their numbers low.
“We had a guy that’s done this for 40 years, and he said this was the worst weather he’s ever seen. It was cold, and it poured with thunder and lightning,” Cooper said.
It was so wet outside, the final awards ceremony was moved from the outside amphitheater to a nearby shelter house. This year’s grand prize winning trout went to Jim Burson of Brown County, Ohio, for his catch of more than 14-inches. In addition to his winning fish, Burson also took home the grand prize Kenmore gas grill. He said he has been coming to the Trout Derby for about 15 years, and won third-place last year.
“I love catching fish,” Burson said. “I’ve caught bigger fish than the one I caught today, but I didn’t know about this 15 years ago. I just didn’t turn them in. My biggest catch was 15 — wait, no … 18 inches!”
His trick, he confessed, is jiggling the line when it hits the water to irritate the fish.
Also taking home top honors at this year’s Trout Derby was Bill McMeans in the adult category, Brandon Walker in the teen category, and Donald Brown in the senior category.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or email@example.com.