Children flocked to the grounds of the Hamburg Fish and Game Association for a popular annual event, the fishing rodeo. This year, event organizer Deb Kline said, more than 300 children came to the rodeo and caught 519 trout.
The rodeo is open to youngsters up to age 15. Each child is welcome to come on both Saturday and Sunday over one May weekend, and each can pull in two trout per day from the club’s wood-lined pond. Their chances are improved with help from club members, who stock 1,700 pounds of trout in the fresh-water pound. The fish range in variety of trout and sizes, from 15 to 26 inches.
“It was stocked Tuesday and Wednesday [before the rodeo,]” Kline said as she looked over the waters. “The dam is closed to members a week before the rodeo. But tonight [Sunday evening], all the older gentlemen will be here. They’re already comping at the bit for their turn.”
This was the 60th year for the fishing rodeo. Typically, area families return to fish, many as part of a multigenerational tradition. Brothers Tyler, 12, and Jordyn Geist, 10, of Center Valley came this year with their grandfather, Donald Hartz of Hamburg. The trio said they have fished at the rodeo many times, and the boys noted they love to fish and even have their own fishing webpage, www.GeistBrothersFishing.com.
“I fish all the time,” Jordyn confirmed, sharing the story of a 23-inch trout he recently reeled in. “I like how the fish fight when you have them hooked.”
His older brother agreed.
“You never know what it is when you’re pulling it in,” Tyler said. “It could be a shark!”
“Or a rusty old bike,” Jordyn added, laughing.
The brothers credited their successful fishing at the Hamburg rodeo to their garlic-scented bait.
The goal of the event is to help kids catch a love of fishing. To lure them in, however, prizes are on offer. All children who register to fish get free hot dogs and drinks and are entered in door prize drawings. A $5 prize was awarded to the first fish caught on the morning and afternoon sessions of each day and other prizes given to youngsters by age category with the largest combined length of fish for each day.
Two $50 prizes are awarded to the top two overall winners of both days, one in memory of Walt Himmelberger and the other sponsored by Jerry B’s Tattoos in Hamburg. The first-place winner’s name will also be inscribed on a plaque hanging in the Hamburg club house.
“There’s also prizes for the boy and girl who caught the smallest fish,” Kline said, highlighting a favorite award given to what some would consider an unlucky fisherman, or -woman. Emily Donne, Justin Willman, Rosemarie Martinez and Nicholas Hix were recognized this year.
“We had two 24-inches caught yesterday,” Kline said as she prepared to log in more children during Sunday’s rodeo, noting that cool, rainy temperatures cut some fishing times short.
“They came, got their fish, and were in and out in half an hour,” she said, “but the fish were definitely biting.”
On Saturday, 167 kids caught 283 fish. The following day, 151 children pulled in 236 fish. Kenzie Kissinger was the overall winner with four fish combining for 67 inches. Kissinger’s name will be placed on the plaque. Second place winner was Sierra Garnis with a combined 66.25 inches.
Kline said 15 association volunteers help the event to run smoothly. In addition, advisers and student members of the Hamburg Area High School’s Wilderness Club run the food stand. Individuals and businesses loan golf carts and gators as well as a generator for the sound system, others donate prices.
The Hamburg Fish and Game Association is located at 935 5th Street in Hamburg. The club holds events year round for children, youth and adults. For information on events or club membership, call 610.562.3532 or visit their Facebook page: www.fb.com/HamburgGame.