Catch of the day

May 09, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

SHARPSBURG - Although the competition to catch the most fish out of the Sharpsburg town pond didn't start until 8 a.m., Brent Moyers was ready early.

Perched atop a plastic bucket he was using as a seat, rod and reel in hand and tackle by his side, the 9-year-old said, "I'm gonna try to get the biggest fish."

Moyers was among about 60 youths who entered Saturday morning's fishing rodeo at the pond off West Church Street. The boys and girls, divided into age groups, vied in several different categories, although the main competition was to catch the most fish during the competition.


Winners were awarded new fishing rods, but participants who didn't place still received a coupon for free ice cream.

While the event gave children and their parents something free and fun to do for a few hours, there was concern that the event may not happen next year because of a state policy shift.

Sharpsburg Town Councilman J.W. Eichelberger, the lead organizer of the event, said many of the children out Saturday were fishing for their first time.

The pond was stocked with about 200 trout this week for the competition, Eichelberger said. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources provided the fish for free this year, but state officials recently said they will begin charging for the service.

Eichelberger said that the rest of the expenses were covered by the town. While the $250 it cost this year is relatively minimal, having to pay for the fish could double or triple the cost next year, which could put the program in jeopardy, he said.

"It all adds up," he said.

But any problems weren't apparent Saturday.

Fishing rods lined the shoreline of the small pond. Parents lined up with coolers and folding seats. Once the signal was given to start fishing a few minutes after 8 a.m., bobbers started bobbing as fish tugged at baited hooks.

Karissa Kalbflesh, 9, and her cousin, Kelsey Pittsnogle, 8, monitored their fishing poles side by side. When Kalbflesh's pole snared a 6-inch trout, she reeled it in, but pointed the business end of the tackle at her cousin's father to unhook the fish.

"Eeew!" Kalbflesh squealed after pulling the fish out of the water.

Kalbflesh's mother, Sherry Kalbflesh, 36, said having a free event such as Saturday's is great when it can cost $100 or more annually to enroll youngsters in sports.

"We have to pay for everything these kids have to do," Sherry Kalbflesh said.

But as her daughter was casting her rod back into the pond, Sherry Kalbflesh couldn't deny one fact.

"They're having a great time," she said.

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