The 2nd annual Patrick County Kids’ Trout Fishing Day was held April 9 at the Mayo River Rail Trail Picnic Area in Stuart. This event originated in 2019, attracting 45 kids plus about 30 parents/guardians, and was intended to be an annual event.
The COVID pandemic interrupted those plans for the past two years but is now back on track! Many thanks hosting the event to Sandra Heath, the Patrick County Soil and Water Conservation District (Patrick SWCD), Wayne and Betty Kirkpatrick, the Dan River Basin Association, Eric Tichay, the Smith River Trout Unlimited (SRTU) Chapter, the Falling Creek Hunting Club, the PCHS Fishing Team, the PC Maintenance Department, Walmart, Rocky Mabe, Chris Corbett, Robbie Wade, Joe Ingram and especially to Wildlife Officer, Dale Owens and the Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR). These partners have come together to create Kids’ Trout Fishing Day as what will continue as an annual event. DWR, through the work of Dale Owens, has designated the second Saturday of April each year as the Patrick County Kids’ Fishing Day along the Mayo River Trail.
This year’s event registered 85 kids with their parents/guardians for a total of about 170 individuals enjoying the outdoors in Patrick County. DWR stocked the Mayo with 500 pounds of trout – Rainbows, Browns and Brooks. The day was crisp and breezy but the fishing action was hot! The catch reported in varied in length between 15.25 inches and 7.25 inches as the smiles and squeals of happy youth and adults carried up and down the stream.
An array of door prizes awaited the kids as the event wound down at noon. The longest trout catcher was 8-year-old Waylon Hazelwood, who received a fly rod and accessories sponsored by Smith River Trout Unlimited Chapter. Waylon also was presented a $20 cash prize and a trophy sponsored by Rocky Mabe.
The shortest trout catcher was 7-year-old Taelyn Wilson, who received a fly rod, accessories by Smith River Trout Unlimited Chapter and a trophy sponsored by Rocky Mabe. A raffle was held for an entire table of gifts, and about 20 children picked out their choice of prize as their number was called.
Heath’s vision was to give children as well as adults an opportunity to access to great fishing on the Mayo River and for kids & families to get out and enjoy nature.
In February 2017, she met George Palmer, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Biologist, at the Mayo River Rail Trail to discuss extending trout stocking on the South Mayo River. After working with Palmer, Dale Owens, VDGIF Conservation Police Officer; Tom Rose, then-Patrick County Administrator, and the Patrick County Board of Supervisors, a public fishing agreement was agreed to and approved on March 13, 2017.
One goal was to have an annual Kids Trout Fishing Day, as well as to provide a great trout fishing location from the parking lot area downstream to the bench end for the public. Through teamwork, Kirkpatrick, of the Dan River Basin Association; Heath and Owens made the first ever Kids Trout Fishing Day a reality on April 20, 2019. Many partnering organizations helped with that event.
All ages enjoyed the event and there were a lot of smiles, from the youngest 2-year-old fishing to the 15-year-old reeling them in along the Mayo River.
For more details and pictures, check out the Patrick County Kids’ Trout Fishing Day Facebook page. Thanks to everyone for coming out and to all the sponsors for their assistance in making the event a success for the children.