On Sunday, September 15, 2013, I had a busy day planned. I woke up early, left the house heading to Swine Creek Reservation to photograph the youth fishing event that was hosted by Judge Timothy Grendell. I recently became an official Geauga Park District Volunteer and have signed up to photograph quite a few upcoming events. It was a cool, crisp morning for this event. Perfect for fishing!
I arrived at Swine Creek Lodge at 9 a.m. There were only a few cars in the parking lot. I made my way across the bridge over to the lodge. The other volunteers were busy chatting with the families, making sure everyone signed in, and organizing all of the great prizes that were donated. I introduced myself to Fran, the volunteer that was signing everyone in.
I decided to take a quick lap around the pond and take a few photos. The morning dew was still clinging to every plant, flower, and blade of grass. I suddenly felt the cold, wet dew on my feet as I circled the pond. Guess my boots weren’t waterproof! As I walked, I noticed a few more cars pull into the parking lot. Excited kids with tackle and rods in hand were scurrying across that bridge over to Fran wondering when they could start fishing.
As I was talking with a few of the volunteers, a familiar face came across that bridge with her family. Sheryl Gusler, one of our writers at Geauga News, came over to give me a hug. Behind her was her husband Duane, their kids, and grandkids. I hadn’t seen Sheryl and Duane since the spring at the Drive It Yourself Tour. Shortly, everyone was gathered up and sent into the lodge for the program introduction with Judge Grendell.
The families quickly filed inside filling up half of the picnic table inside the Lodge. Judge Grendell spoke to everyone and explained how the day was going to go. Wildlife Officer Scott was on hand to give a few safety tips. The group was being split into two smaller groups for a short time before the kids could start fishing. One group was to stay inside to practice tying knots while the other group went out behind the lodge to practice casting. The groups switched after the volunteers were confident in their casting and knot tying abilities.
Finally, let the fishing begin.
Bait was provided for those that did not bring their own. The families settled into their own little spots around the pond. One little boy, whom I had been watching master the art of casting behind the lodge, threw the first cast and immediately snagged a nice sized bass. He was so excited! They tossed it back in before the volunteers were able to measure it. Could it have been the big catch of the day? I guess we will never know.
The pond was stocked with bass and bluegill several days before this event. Twenty of the bluegill that were put in the pond had small metal tags on their gills. If anyone caught a tagged fish, they would win a prize. The volunteers stayed very busy for the next few hours, running around the pond logging fish sizes, tag numbers, and helping the kids get their fish off the hook.
I grew up fishing a lot with my dad. He still calls me sometimes when he goes out fishing to see if I would like to join him. I spent a little bit of time with Robin Pilarczyk, HR Director with Geauga Park District, who was there with her granddaughter, Emma. Emma had been fishing before with her father, but was not crazy about the process of putting the worm on the hook. I gave her a few tips, and soon afterward she reeled in a nice sized bluegill. And, guess what? It was tagged! Her frown from the worms quickly turned into a huge smile!
Here are some more great catches that day:
It was good to see all of the families there out enjoying nature. While I was speaking with Robin, we talked about how fishing teaches kids patience. They were all so eager to cast the line and reel it back in really quick, expecting to have a fish on the line. Words that were heard quite often that morning were “just wait.”
There was a great turnout for this event. I overhead Fran count at least 50 people. All of the kids seemed to be enjoying themselves. Best of all, I did not see one child playing on a cell phone, tablet, or handheld video game during the entire program. No one was complaining! They were all just enjoying what Mother Nature had to offer that day.
I had to leave this event a little early in order to make it over to another Geauga Park District Event at Frohring Meadows, which I will also be writing about soon. Sheryl was kind enough to take some photos of the winners for me.
Thank you to Judge Grendell and his team and to the staff and volunteers at Geauga Park District for hosting this fantastic event. I am looking forward to photographing the youth hunting program in November!