Young anglers hook fish and ‘a lot of fun’ at Port Matilda derby

bmilazzo@centredaily.comApril 26, 2014 

— Four-year-old Coleman Sharp’s little arms weren’t strong enough to reel in a six-pound, 22-inch brown trout from Bald Eagle Creek on Saturday morning.

But with the help of his father, Judd Sharp, Coleman pulled the fish from the waters at Port Matilda Community Park.

Coleman’s trout was the largest measured that morning at the 30th annual Port Matilda Children’s Fishing Derby.

About 200 kids ages 4 to 15, from 18 Pennsylvania counties, were involved this year, said George Jackson, event co-chairman.

The top three youth anglers — those catching the biggest fish — in five age categories received new rods and reels, and trophies.

“Oh yeah, the kids like it,” Jackson said. “It’s a lot of work to plan, but all worth it.”

He said between 1,400 and 1,500 trout of various species were stocked in the creek near the park on Friday. The Bald Eagle Sportsmen Club raises the trout that are 10 to 26 inches in length.

Annually, the club raises about 50,000 trout, Jackson said.

Michaela Mahon, 12, of State College, fished for the first time on Saturday. She said she caught five trout, including a 14-inch golden trout.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Michaela said. “I hope to do it again.”

Michaela, a Park Forest Middle School student, said her uncle, Terry Mahon, encouraged her to register for the derby.

“I guess I would have never known to do this if he didn’t say something last night,” she said.

The creek at Community Park will be open only to those ages 12 and under until Friday. Those not accompanied by a child will be in violation of park rules by a permit with the Fish and Boat Commission, Jackson said.

“We expect to get a busy crowd,” Jackson said.

All money raised at Saturday’s event will go toward the Port Matilda Children’s Fishing Derby Association. Money from the association will also help fund the Bald Eagle Sportsmen Club’s fish hatchery, Jackson said.

Britney Milazzo can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @ M11azzo.

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