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C&O Canal Fishing Contest lures young contenders

June 11, 2000|By JULIE E. GREENE

WILLIAMSPORT - The thought of a relaxed person fishing usually conjures up images of leaning back in a boat, hat tipped over the face, partially napping while the hook is resting in a calm lake.

While the Leggett cousins find fishing relaxing, by no means were they lazing about Sunday at the C&O Canal Fishing Contest that drew dozens of youths and their family members.

As soon as Chad Leggett, 14, of Biglerville, Pa., dropped his hook back in the canal he had another fish biting at the worm. Not halfway into the two-hour contest, Leggett had caught and released 16 fish.

"He's good. He's real good," said Leggett's Uncle Lonnie.

About two weeks ago Leggett walked away with $1,150 after winning the Chambersburg Trout Derby at Conococheague Creek by catching a 24-inch Palomino Trout, he said.

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Leggett and his cousins, Aaron Leggett and Justin Leggett, 15, of Boonsboro, were fishing in the shade under the U.S. 11 bridge along with Justin Trumpower, 15, of Hagerstown.

While Justin was fishing there to stay cool, the Leggetts sought out the shade because they knew fish do the same on such a hot day.

Shade gives fish a sense of security, although it's "a false sense of security with these guys," said Ed Enamait. Enamait, a Maryland Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist, was kept busy measuring the boys' catches for the contest.

Chad Leggett won second place in his age group with 35 fish. His cousin, Aaron Leggett, 12, of Boonsboro, finished third with 30 fish.

The boys were beat by Jessie Wolfe, 12, of Clear Spring, who caught 41 fish in the shallow waters under the hot sun. As soon as a fish bit, Jessie yanked it on the bank, he said.

The fisheries service stocked the canal with a hybrid of green sunfish and bluegill sunfish, Enamait said.

"It makes for excellent fishing because they're aggressive and bite very well," Enamait said.

Sunfish weren't the only thing biting.

Alijah Benson, 4, caught the largest fish of the day, a 19 3/4-inch catfish.

Ben Burger, 13, of Williamsport, caught the largest fish for the 12 to 15 age group, a 13 1/8-inch large mouth bass. The bass was only the second thing Burger had caught near the end of the contest. Ben, who was fishing off the railroad bridge, also caught a turtle.

Garrett Hamby, 10, Andrew Shupp, 11, and Matthew Reynolds, 12, of Hagerstown, were competing near the railroad bridge to catch the most unusual fish of the day, only to find out that was no longer a contest category.

Garrett, of Kemps Mill Road, still won a prize for his 8-inch crappie.

It was the first fishing rodeo for Andrew, of Williamsport, who caught three fish during the tournament and twice snagged a fishing net.

Shupp said he loves the "thrill of the catch. It's addictive too."

The contest was the first fishing experience for 2-year-old Dakota Rose, of Williamsport. With a tan floppy fishing hat over his damp blond hair and a pacifier in his mouth, Dakota at times seemed more interested in throwing his worms in the canal.

He ended the day with two catches, while his more experienced brother, Jacob, 5, caught at least five fish.

Caitlin and Cassidy Bartolome of Gaithersburg, Md., came to the contest after hearing about it from their grandparents in Falling Waters, W.Va.

After moving from the sun to the shade Caitlin, 9, caught two fish and Cassidy, 4, caught one.

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