LACKAWAXEN – Coinciding with the opening day of trout season in Pennsylvania and Pike County’s 200th anniversary, the first-ever Zane Grey Catch-and-Release Fishing Derby begins April 12 and runs through July 6.
The tournament is open to all anglers with no pre-registration or entry fee required. Prizes will be awarded in three categories of Youth Male and Youth Female (up to 15 years of age), and Open Class (ages 16 and over) at the 10th Annual Zane Grey Festival to be held at the National Park Service Upper Delaware and Scenic Recreational River’s Zane Grey Museum grounds in Lackawaxen on Saturday, July 12.
Game fish targeted are smallmouth bass and trout (rainbow, brook and brown) caught with fly-fishing or conventional tackle on the Delaware River, the Lackawaxen River, their tributaries, and all the flowing waters of Pike County, and released back into those Zane Grey waters between April 12 and July 6.
Only fish lawfully caught in accordance with all applicable fishing regulations will be considered for prizes.
Participants must obtain an official Zane Grey Catch-and-Release Fishing Derby ruler on which they will take a photo of their eligible fish and e-mail it with the angler’s name, age, and a certification that it was released live to
The 24-inch-long coated paper rulers are available for free pick-up at regional fishing & tackle shops, the Zane Grey Museum at 135 Scenic Dr. in Lackawaxen, The Columns Museum at 608 Broad St. in Milford, and the Upper Delaware Council office at 211 Bridge St. in Narrowsburg, NY.
Printing of the rulers – which include the derby instructions, historic photos of Zane Grey, and a description of catch and release protocols – was made possible by support from the Commissioners of Pike County, the Pike County Historical Society, Zane Grey’s West Society, and Pike County Outfitters located in Milford’s Apple Valley Village.
Johnson Outdoors Watercraft Inc. and Old Town Canoes & Kayaks is also a derby sponsor, having donated a Saranac 146 canoe with two paddles and two life vests as a prize package.
Additional planning assistance for the derby was provided by the Upper Delaware Chapter of Trout Unlimited, the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum, and licensed fishing guides under permit with the National Park Service.
The derby is among a year-long series of events to celebrate Pike County’s bicentennial. Established March 26, 1814, the county has always been a sportsmen’s paradise. Even the first Native American settlers knew the value of living on the river and relied upon its bounty. Fast forward to modern day, the rivers of Pike County are just as popular, providing anglers with a multitude of fish to entice their jigs and rigs.
In recognition of that angling importance, The Columns Museum currently features the special exhibit, “Hook, Line and Sinker: Fishing in Pike County” available for viewing on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, or by appointment.
“Father of the Western Novel” Zane Grey lived along the banks of the Upper Delaware River in Pike County’s Lackawaxen from 1905-1918. An avid fisherman throughout his life, he earned numerous world records for angling and was an early proponent of the catch-and-release policy. His “A Day on the Delaware” article published in Recreation magazine in 1902 extolls his appreciation for plying local waters.
Those participating in the derby are reminded to practice river safety, such as wearing a properly-fitted Personal Flotation Device and appropriate gear, checking on conditions in advance (an Upper Delaware River Hotline is available at 845-252-7100), telling someone where you are going and when you plan to return, and consulting www.nps.gov/upde/planyourvisit/riversafety.htm for additional tips.
For more information on the Zane Grey Catch-and-Release Fishing Derby, call the Pike County Historical Society at (570) 296-8126, NPS Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River at (570) 685-4871, or the Upper Delaware Council at (845) 252-3022.