JERSEY SHORE - It was cold and rainy outside on March 31, but inside the truck bay at Independent Hose Co. about 180 children and their families were catching rainbow trout during the fire company's annual Indoor Fishing Derby.
The yearly fundraising event has become popular in the borough.
"A lot of people are beginning to look forward to it. It is a nice day with the family," Independent Hose Co. Fire Chief Bob Sheets said. "It gets our name out there and the community gets to see us and we get to see them. It is good public relations."
Every so often, a scream of excitement was heard as a young child hooked one of the rainbows stocked into three makeshift ponds in the bay. Members of the fire company manned fishing nets, scooping up the trout as they jumped and wiggled in the water to try to set themselves free.
Kelsey Hull, 8, of Jersey Shore, was fishing with her dad, Dan Hull. She was decked out in her fashionable fishing attire - camo boots, gray hoodie, a fishing vest over top and a white Bass Pro Shops ball cap on her head and a matching T-shirt under her hoodie.
"Well, Mom doesn't like to come - it's just not her thing - but me and dad have a good time, so we like it," she said. "Every year, I at least catch a fish."
This year, she landed four trout ranging from 11 inches to 14 1/4 inches.
The derby is one of many fundraisers the fire company holds to help with the yearly costs of maintaining an all-volunteer department. Even the derby was staffed by volunteers.
Conner Rhinehart, 7, caught a 15 1/2-inch trout. His mother, MariBeth Rhinehart, of Jersey Shore, said she enjoys the family fun.
"It means a lot because it's not only for the kids to have fun, but it's also helping out our local fire department," Rhinehart said.
Cory Wagner's son, C.J., 3, also of Jersey Shore, caught his first fish at the derby.
"I just come out to have a good time and bring my son out to catch some fish," Cory said.
The fishing ended at 4 p.m. with the overall largest fish award going to 9-year-old Jace Heverly, of Mill Hall. His fish measured 17 7/8 inches.
The other winners were two first-place awards given to Abby Chiglinsky and Mykaleigh Funk; two second-place winners, Cameron Quick and Caleb Haddix; and two third-place winners, Hunter McAlister and Mckayla Tomb.