80 Years of Fishing
Since it was created by the WPA in 1936 for fishing and skating, the pond in Glen Providence Park has seen its fair share of fishing, from family outings to years of fishing contests! Early active involvement by the environmental organization Izaac Walton League gave way to activities led by other community groups, with fishing programs and rodeos for boys and girls, field trips, and fishing lessons. The pond was listed in the Fishing Directory of Delaware County, and was stocked with impressive quantities of fish for decades.
Ten pairs of largemouth bass that were introduced as brood fish got the “rearing pond” off to a start a little more exciting than intended, as recounted in the August 1937 issue of Pennsylvania Angler magazine: “The bass were on the nests and everything was going lovely when a park authority gave Waltonian Phil Platt a hurry call on the ‘phone. It seems that a lad was wading or something like that and his foot came rather close to a bass over its nest. The fish struck so viciously that it drew blood.” Fortunately that did not deter hundreds of children from participating each year in the County’s fishing program!
Junior Fishing Project
There were fishing programs for children under 16 (the fishing license age) from at least 1940 to 1967, so that youths could “enjoy the pasttime of fishing.” In the County’s “Junior Fishing Project” in the 1940’s, each boy and girl would register at the park guard house: “Upon registration, the child is given a tag, and these tags, issued free of charge, permit the youngster to fish from May to October.” Fishing was permitted on Wednesdays and Saturdays, with daily catch limits, and a requirement that all hooks be barbless.
The fishing program was well organized by Delaware County Parks & Recreation – park guards tracked registrations, and the sizes and totals of fish caught, with prizes awarded at the end of the season for the largest fish. In the summer of 1941, “There were 282 registrations throughout the summer of children under 16 years of age. These youngsters proved themselves worthy Izaak Waltonians when a record of the total fish caught was received from Mr. Stokes, guard at Glen Providence Park, as follows: 662 sunfish, 19 perch, 4 bass.” A 17-pound bass was caught in 1940, and in 1945, “Stokes said catfish 10 to 12 inches long having been reported and carp up to 17 inches. Bass are running from 12 to 20 inches long.”
Stocking the pond
All this fishing was sustained by some impressive stocking of the pond with various fish through the years, often by the thousands. Perch, bass, sunfish, carp, catfish, and bullheads were stocked in the 1940’s; and blue gills, largemouth bass, and catfish in the 1960’s.
After stocking the pond with 4,000 catfish, bullheads, and carp in 1942, the County offered a recipe to make use of them: “Carp make good eating, too, park board authorities say. But, they warn, place six to eight potatoes in the same pan, smack up against the fish. Bake until done and then, above all things, discard the potatoes. That’s because the potatoes absorb the objectionable taste and odor. If the carp is prepared in this suggested manner, they say, the carp will easily pass for a fresh Spanish mackerel.”
As with most events and activities in the park’s past, different community organizations contributed to sustaining fishing through the years. In addition to Delaware County Parks & Recreation, those who stocked the pond included the Izaac Walton League in the early 1940’s, the Field and Stream Club in 1949, and Delco Anglers and Conservationists in the 1960’s. In 1950, 4,000 Bluegills were donated by the federal government! In 1963, the Media Jaycees, who were so involved in the park for years through running the Great Media Easter Egg Hunt and the July 4 Fireworks & Festivities, led a fishing expedition for children of Elwyn School: “17 boys caught 35 fish in the morning at Glen Providence Park.”
After forming as an organization in 1961, Delco Anglers and Conservationists were active in Glen Providence in the 1960’s. They transplanted over 200 Bluegills and 65 Largemouth bass into the pond in 1963. Then in 1965, they held a fishing rodeo for boys and girls up to 15 years old, with more than 100 contestants from 10 communities. Wonderfully, it was a four year old girl who caught more fish than any other contestant in the rodeo! Her well-deserved prize was “a spanking new rod and reed almost twice as tall as she is.”
The Delco Anglers held the “Annual Fishing Rodeo” for at least two more years. The most recent article I found specific to fishing in the park was from 1968, when Glen Providence was one of 4 locations where 2,500 catfish were released: “The whiskered gents have been released in four of the local lakes for your fishing pleasure.”
We don’t have records of fishing at the park in the 1970’s, but we know the pond had virtually dried up by the early 1980’s – when it was revitalized and restocked with frogs, as recounted in A WPA Pond. The pond was likely restocked with fish as well. There are also fish in Broomall’s Run, which feeds the pond, making that another source of fish.
While there are no longer fishing programs or rodeos, fishing at the pond continues today. Two years ago we discovered fly fishing lessons in the park, run by Delco Manning Trout Unlimited and Sporting Gentleman – when it was located in Media Borough, 2 blocks from the park. We also come across individuals and families “enjoying the pastime of fishing.”
The fish mentioned throughout the newspaper articles are listed as: bass, Largemouth bass, sunfish, Bluegill (sunfish), perch, carp, catfish, and Bullhead (catfish). The fish we have photographed in the past 5 years are: Pumpkinseed and Bluegill sunfish, Bullhead catfish, Common carp, Largemouth bass, and unidentified minnows. If you have more to add to that, let us know – we’ll create a Park Fish List to add to our species lists of the park’s birds, trees, and reptiles & amphibians!
Do you have stories, memories, or photos from fishing in Glen Providence Park, or species to add to those listed? Please email us at FriendsoftheGlen [at] gmail [dot] com.
Read some more details from early articles, and see that four year old fishing champion(!) and photos of the park’s fish, in the gallery below. Sources listed after the gallery.
Chester Times & Daily Times articles researched on the Newspaper Archives of Delaware County Library.
Pennsylvania Angler Magazine:
Waders Beware!, August 1937
Successful Season at Junior Project, January 1941
Thousands Enjoy Relief from Heat in County Parks, July 25, 1940
County’s Park System Program, January 31, 1941
Sports Shorts, May 14, 1941
Fishing Project for Young Folks, May 29, 1941
4000 Fish for Lake in Park, September 2, 1942
Glen Providence, On Edge of Media, Is Bird Haven, July 22, 1944
Glen Providence Fishing Contest To Start July 1, June 29, 1945
Glen Providence Park One of Scenic Spots in County, October 24, 1949
Glen Providence Gets 4000 Blue Gills, November 2, 1950
Glen Providence Is Interesting Spot, May 1, 1951???
Delaware County Daily Times:
Ernie’s Almanac, Ernie Trosino, September 19, 1963
Middletown Jaycees Aid Polio Clinic, October 9, 1963
Ernie’s Almanac, Ernie Trosino, September 2, 1965
Little Girl’s Fish Story Is No Fabulous Fiction, But Fact, September 18, 1965
Ernie’s Almanac, Ernie Trosino, September 15, 1966
Fishing Rodeo Is Scheduled, August 23, 1967
Ernie’s Almanac, Ernie Trosino, April 15, 1968
Additional sources cited in A WPA Pond.
Thank you to Brian Vadino of the Delaware County Conservation District, and Art at the pond, for their assistance with some of the fish ID’s.