Hillsboro’s second annual Family Fishing Day will be held Saturday at Harmony Lake, located at Liberty Park, with registration beginning at 11 a.m.
The early part of the event, from noon to 4 p.m., is specifically for youngsters age 15 and under, but after 4 p.m. anyone is welcome to fish, said Gary Lewis, the city auditor who is one of the main organizers of the event, along with Jason Bernard and Kyle Clemons of the water treatment plant.
Participants are welcome to bring their own pole and gear, but a $2,500 grant from Walmart will help provide fishing poles, bobbers, hooks, weights, bait and other items while they last to those 15 and under, beginning at 11 a.m. with registration and pole distribution.
From noon to 4 p.m. the trout fishing derby will be held for the 15 and under group, with fishing open to the general public after that. ODNR fishing licenses are required for anyone 16 and older.
Free food and drinks will be provided thanks to sponsors Walmart, Pepsi and Hillsboro Elks Lodge 1862.
Lewis said last year’s kick-off event drew a good crowd of about 100, but he said he wouldn’t be surprised if this year’s turnout more than doubled that number. The forecast calls for 70-degree temperatures under sunny skies.
Lewis said Harmony Lake is stocked with larger fish than many other tournaments, with trout in the 2.5 to 3.5 pound range. The trout were stocked as part of a “put and take” program, meaning they are designed to be caught and removed quickly because they are cold water fish.
Lewis said the Highland County Republican Club has donated $100 that will be distributed at $25 each to youngsters snagging up to four tagged fish. He said Harmony Lake provides more room for fishing than at some similar events.
City officials have been trying to create more public awareness of Harmony Lake. This summer, the city plans to build a pavilion at the lake, similar to the one near Liberty Park’s amphitheater.
Hillsboro Safety and Service Director Todd Wilkin said last year that a few years ago, Mayor Drew Hastings participated in a health fair at the Hobart company, and “95 percent of the employees had no idea Harmony Lake existed.”
The lake is located at the end of Diamond Drive, the road that runs past the YMCA. Keep going north on Diamond, and visitors will come to a gate that’s open from dawn to dusk seven days a week year-round.
After passing through the gate, the recently-paved road extends all the way back to the city reservoir. On the right is a large, mowed park available for picnicking, Frisbee tossing, pickup soccer games, or even a little driving range-style golf practice. In the midst of the greenery is Harmony Lake, which is available for public fishing.
Wilkin said previously that he hopes to bring back the tradition of schools making field trips to the lake. He encouraged local families to visit Harmony Lake and take part in the fishing, relaxation and outdoor activities that can be enjoyed there.
“It’s here for everyone,” he said. “People should take advantage of it.”
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.