PINE GROVE – What began as a family fishing contest at Sweet Arrow Lake County Park has turned into a month-long tournament with major prizes.
"Family Fun Fishing Day" is still being held as planned, Sunday, May 5, but anglers catching tagged fish have until Saturday, June 1, to turn in tags and redeem the corresponding prize.
Registration for the event can be done by accessing the Sweet Arrow Lake website at http://www.sweetarrowlakepark.com/, and registration includes a food voucher to be redeemed for breakfast, beginning at 6 a.m., or lunch at the clubhouse.
Event organizer Craig Morgan of the Schuylkill County Sportsmen's Advisory Board said the response to the fund-raising event, including the support of the Schuylkill County Commissioners, to benefit the Schuylkill County Sportsmen's Association's youth education projects has been beyond expectations for a first-year event.
In addition, members of the Keystone Wounded Warriors will also be participating in the event.
"Thanks to a great response from sponsors and an effort to appeal to stream fisherman, the event has grown," Morgan said. "Our initial concept was simply to utilize fishing and other outdoors activities to establish a lasting family bonding experience and create a greater awareness of Sweet Arrow Lake County Park and all its amenities.
"Sweet Arrow Lake is open to public fishing May 5, but to be eligible for a prize on the more than 50 tagged fish that will be stocked with the cooperation of Schuylkill County Trout Unlimited Chapter at 8 a.m., registration is required. In addition, the first 200 youngsters age 12 or younger will receive a prize they claim at the clubhouse.
"More than 3,000 trout, including 100 lunkers longer than 18 inches, will be stocked for the event. More than $3,000 in prizes are available, and the minimum prize on the tagged trout is $25.
"Originally, the plans were to stock tagged trout only in the lake, but through the cooperation of the Friends of Schuylkill Parks and Recreation and the Pine Grove Fish and Game and Swatara Co-Op trout nurseries the stream below the falls will also be stocked with prize fish. One of the golden rainbow lunkers will be worth $200 cash, another lunker will have a tag for $150 and has been designated as the "Commish Fish" to signify our three county commissioners each making a $50 donation and Cabela's in Hamburg and Bass Pro Shops in Harrisburg have both donated a $150 gift certificate for two tagged trout."
Morgan said there will be a special drawing for more than $1,000 in prizes will be held the day of the event beginning at 2 p.m. at the clubhouse, but winners must be present to win.
Also, the two heaviest carp turned in at that time will both win a prize of $50.
"Even if someone has a conflict with the May 5 date, they have the entire month to catch that big one and claim prizes by registering," Morgan said. "Also, by stocking the Upper Little Swatara Creek upstream and downstream from the lake on park land it opens the event to shore anglers.
"There should be plenty of fish because in addition to those being stocked for the event, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has an in-season stocking scheduled May 1. We are hoping this will become an annual event."