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 event is in conjunction with the bicentennial celebration, noting Zane Grey's enthusiasm for fishing. Grey, whose former home overlooks the Delaware in Lackawaxen, is best known for his series of western-theme novels. The National Park Service Upper Delaware and Scenic Recreational River recognizes his life and heritage to Pike County, operating his former home as a museum.
   Pike County Historical Society is hosting the derby, and is hosting a couple other events that also relating to angling.
  Lori Streleski, Executive Director of the Society, talked about the derby at the Pike County Commissioners' meeting, April 2.
••• More about the derby
    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 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.
••• Paint a fish
   Strelecki held up a flat wooden cut-out of a fish at the Commissioners' meeting. She said it was reminiscent of the carved trout fish that adorns the weather vane on the Sheriff's Office, what was the old stone jail and originally the Pike County Courthouse, opened in 1816.
   She said they have 50 of these wooden fish, waiting to be painted. She invited anyone who would like to paint one, to pick one up at The Columns Museum in Milford. Once the painted fish are returned, the Historical Society will feature them as an exhibit for the County's 200th anniversary.
   Commissioner Matthew Osterberg commented that pinting the fish is "a great family project."
     The Columns Museum also currently features the special exhibit, “Hook, Line and Sinker: Fishing in Pike County” available for viewing on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, or by appointment.
••• More about Grey
    “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.
 ••• Safety first
   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 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.