First Posted: 5/30/2009
Six-year-old Landon Smith loves all kinds of sports, but fishing was never on that list at least not until yesterday.
Landon and his father, Greg Smith, joined more than 100 others at Westwood Park off of U.S. 52 yesterday for a day of fishing that included a four-hour fishing competition, food and live music.
The event known as Fishstock 2009 was sponsored by the Mount Airy Parks and Recreation, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and Opies Candy Store, which provided prizes for fishing competitors.
Fishstock 2009 officially ushered in the use of a newly stocked pond that is the first still-water fishing facility for the public in this area. Largely using state funding, the Tumbling Rock site was developed from the remnants of a 1920s municipal reservoir and includes a handicapped-accessible pier and other amenities.
Along with other fish varieties that have been stocked since 2007, 500 catfish were released into the pond by the Wildlife Resources Commission specifically for yesterdays event. People may fish daily at Westwood Park during its regular hours.
Kin Hodges, a biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, said the organization has a program where it partners with the cities to help cover 75 percent of the expenses to have a community fishing spot stocked with fish. The commission provides its portion of the operating funds through the Sport Fish Restoration Fund, while the local government funds 25 percent and provides the fishing site.
The sites receive monthly stockings of catchable-sized channel catfish from May through October.
Hodges said Saturdays event was the grand opening of the program, and it will run this year from July to October, with 900 catfish being stocked in the reservoir monthly. In 2010, the program will run regularly from May to October.
Its a great opportunity for us to provide fish to the community and its a great opportunity to for the city to provide another recreational opportunity for people at a low cost, Hodges said.
Freddie Quesinberry, the owner of Opies Candy Store, said he hopes the fishing competition (which is not part of the Community Fishing Program) is something that will continue at the park.
Its a great family event, he said. Hopefully it will be an annual event.
Landon and his father felt the same way.
This is our first real fishing trip, Smith said. I wanted him to grow up on a real fishing rod instead of a Fisher Price one. Im used to watching him on the field playing sports, but this way we can actually interact.
Landon nodded in agreement.
I like it, he said, as he cast his hook into the murky waters.
Good cast, Smith said, smiling as he patted his son on the back.
His casting technique is something hes worked on so he could be prepared for the fishing trip, Landon said.
Ive been practicing, he said.
Smith said theyve practiced casting into a kiddy pool at his home. He also said he wanted to get his son involved with fishing as another way to not only connect with him, but to teach him an important virtue patience.
Steven McHone, who brought his daughter Korrine McHone out for fishing, agreed.
I was surprised at her patience, he said.
He said fishing was also an opportunity to be close to his daughter, while doing something they both enjoyed.
We go fishing several times during the summer, just me and her together, he said.
Hodges said he hopes the publics participation in the program continues to grow.
I cover 11 counties and this is one the best crowds Ive ever seen, he said.
The fishing license requirements were waived Saturday for youth and adult participants, but typically those 16 and older are required to have a license. Youth younger than 16 should be accompanied by a properly licensed adult. For more information about licensing or to purchase a license, visit www.ncwildlife.org. For park hours, call Westwood Park at 786-8313.
Contact Erin C. Perkins at [email protected] or 719-1952.