JACK WOLLITZ Reelin' by the River offers fishing fun for youngsters

Looking for a place to take the children fishing this afternoon?
Four organizations actively involved in efforts to restore the Mahoning River are collaborating again on this afternoon's Reelin' by the River, a community event to focus attention on the river's recreational, historical and ecological value.
The Mahoning River Consortium, Muskies Inc. Cleveland Chapter, the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments and the Trumbull County Planning Commission are hosting a variety of activities, including the second annual Kids Fishing Derby, on the banks of the Mahoning River in downtown Warren's Perkins Park and the adjacent Warren Community Amphitheater.
Last year's fishing derby attracted more than 100 children and hundreds of adults who enjoyed the fishing, educational tours and musical entertainment.
The youngsters caught a number of rock bass despite the fact the Mahoning was swollen with run-off from a drenching rainstorm that soaked the Valley the day before last year's Reelin' by the River.
Fishing may be better for today's event as the river is not expected to be over its banks. The rock bass, smallmouth bass, catfish and carp are likely to cooperate. It's also possible one of the young anglers might hook a walleye or muskie, as those species cruise the upper Mahoning River in pretty good numbers.
Promoting the Mahoning
The Mahoning River typically is not the first choice when anglers are deciding on places to wet their lines. But the Mahoning River Consortium is trying to change that.
The group and its allies are promoting a plan in which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would remove low-head dams and dredge the river to remove more than a century's worth of polluted sediment. The dredging would result in a considerably cleaner Mahoning River, making it more likely to sustain populations of gamefish and more attractive as a recreation spot for citizens throughout the Mahoning Valley.
Those who participate in the Kids Fishing Derby and other Reelin' by the River events this afternoon will see and hear an interesting story about the old Mahoning's potential to once again be a great place to wile away a Saturday afternoon.
To assist the youngsters in the derby, members of the Muskies Inc. Cleveland Chapter will provide bait as well as fishing tips. They'll also officiate the derby, measuring and scoring the fish caught by the young anglers.
Muskies Inc. member Chris DePaola of Austintown was there last year and is looking forward to this year's event.
"It's a great opportunity for our club to share our experience with the kids and promote the great opportunity to clean up the Mahoning," DePaola said. "The river has lots of game fish, including muskies, and improving the quality of the environment will make it a viable place for people to fish with realistic expectations about what they might catch."
Highlights of day
Kim Mascarella, of Eastgate Council of Governments and one of the event's organizers, said this afternoon's activities will appeal to a wide variety of interests.
The fishing derby begins at 4 p.m. today in Perkins Park, which is just a block north and west of Warren's Courthouse Square. Children should bring their own rod and reel. Prizes will be awarded.
At 4:30, local historian Alex Bobersky will guide a tour focusing on the history of the river. He'll do a 5:30 tour titled Pioneer Times and at 6:30 lead a tour on 19th-century history.
For kids who grow bored with fishing, a stone-skipping tournament will start at 5 p.m.
Tree expert Dave Pack will deliver a talk, Great Trees of Perkins Park, at various times starting around 4 p.m.
Phil Hillman, an official with Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife, will conduct a casting contest for the youngsters starting at 4 p.m.
The evening will be capped with a performance at 7:30 by Clear Fork, a bluegrass band.

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