MARIETTA - Shawn Fullerton and his son Dalton set up their chairs at the Washington County Fish and Game Association's lake about six hours before the organization's fishing derby started Sunday just so they could get a good spot.
It appears they did, in fact, get a good fishing spot.
Dalton Fullerton, 11, reeled in a 16 1/2 inch catfish during the derby, tying with one other child in his age group.
Elizabeth Kuhn, sitting, holds one end of a fishing pole and her sister, Brittney, holds the other as their parents Jenny and Roger Kuhn look on during the Washington County Fish and Game Association’s fishing derby Sunday. (Photo by Ashley Rittenhouse)
"It felt really good because I love to fish," said Fullerton, of Parkersburg
Although temperatures soared past the 80-degree mark Sunday, that didn't stop hundreds of people from lining up around the association's lake in Whipple for the derby, during which children were able to fish for free using their equipment.
Participants did rub on sunscreen and had plenty of liquids on hand.
"It's a little hot today - totally different than last year. Last year it was cold and windy," said Whipple resident Danielle Erb, 30, who was there with her children, Sydney, 1, and Brayden, 3.
The derby, geared towards youngsters, has been held by the association about 60 years and it typically draws hundreds of anglers. On Sunday the turnout was exceptionally good, according to Jeff Shaw, a trustee with the association.
Shaw estimated about 600 people participated.
"That's very good," he said. "In fact, we're really happy."
There were trophies given for the largest catfish and pan fish in each age group. The age groups were 1-5, 6-11 and 12-16.
The biggest pan fish, measuring 13 7/8 inches, was caught by 4-year-old Ryley Louden. The biggest catfish, caught by 13-year-old Boyd Bingler, measured 18 inches. There was even a trophy given for the smallest fish, which measured 3 1/4 inches and was caught by 8-year-old Zoe Bruce, of Williamstown.
Bruce's mom, Jennifer Bruce, said her daughter was so proud of her trophy she immediately hopped on her bike with it when she got back home so she could show her friends in her neighborhood.
"She loves to fish, it doesn't matter big or small," said Bruce, 37.
For many the derby has become a tradition that all family members can take part in.
Jenny Kuhn, who was there Sunday with her husband Roger and daughters Brittney, 9, and Elizabeth, 4, and son Travis, 17, said she has been going about 10 years.
"The kids have a lot of fun," said Kuhn, 35, of Graysville. "It's good family quality time - there's not too much of that that's kid-oriented."
Melayne Pritchett was also there with her three children, as well as a family friend, Cody Holland, 12, of Barlow.
"I've been probably about three or four years now," said Holland. "I like to see a lot of people come here and get the enjoyment out of fishing."
Holland added the key to being a good fisherman is to have patience.
Pritchett, 39, of Beverly, said she has participated in the derby about seven years.
"It's something the kids can do," she said. "It doesn't matter if they catch something big - it doesn't matter if they catch anything at all - they still have fun."
As part of the event six bicycles were given away to children, there was a country store and concession stand and several guns were raffled off.
The 2012 fishing derby winners were: