March-Westin Fishing Rodeo welcomes young fishers to Chestnut Ridge Park

MORGANTOWN — Cat Hinkle recalls photos of the March-Westin Kids Fishing Rodeo that date back to the 1950s.
So when the superintendent of Chestnut Ridge Park saw 150 kids turn out Saturday at Feather Lake, the tradition added another successful chapter.
While catching fish was the endgame, the rodeo encouraged fishing as a family pastime, taught the little ones basic fishing skills and helped them develop a stewardship ethic. Prizes for biggest, smallest and most fish caught were awarded.
“Every year, without fail, tiny kids are best at catching tiny fish,” Hinkle said.
During the rodeo, kids were allowed keep up to six trout apiece. Feather Lake was stocked with a couple hundred pounds of trout before the rodeo. Other fish caught had to be released back into the water.
“Two years ago, the prize for largest fish was a goldfish at 16 1/2 inches which still blows my mind,” Hinkle said.
The goldfish was likely released by someone who kept it as a pet — a practice Hinkle discourages.
The lake was stocked to give every kid had a chance at catching a trout. Kids were taught how to filet their fish, and for those too young to do it themselves, an instructor did the trimming.
“You could feasibly have dinner today,” Hinkle said.
Members of the WVU Fly Fishing Club and WVU fishing team were on hand to teach their skills. Officials from the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources were there, too, showing off an electrofishing boat they use for studying fish and conservation.

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