Matt Leehan flashed a big ol’ smile. His bobber was moving and he knew just what he had to do.

Leehan gritted his teeth, pulled back and with all his might reeled and reeled and reeled until finally a 10-inch brown trout popped out of the creek.

“Hi there, buddy,” the 9-year old Edinboro resident said, beaming ear to ear as his cousin, Randy Leehan, worked to remove the hook from the trout’s mouth.

“That’s my second one today,” he exclaimed.

Leehan was one of about three dozen children who lined the banks of Mallory Run for the first day of trout fishing. Mallory Run, which is located below Edinboro Dam and flows into Conneauttee Creek, was designated in 2001 as an exclusive-free fishing area for children and special populations.

Mallory Run is also the site of the annual Kids’ Fishing Contest sponsored by Oasis Lodge No. 416 and a fishing destination full of family tradition.

“I’ve been coming here every year since I was a little kid,” Randy Leehan said. “I forget when it officially opened for fishing, but it had to have been about 40 years ago. Then they restricted it to 16 years old and under and now 12 years old and under.

“It’s been a great things for kids since its inception.”

It’s a highly anticipated event as well.

Erie resident Evelyn Honard said her 3-year-old stepgranddaughter Lydia Danielson had her boots on with her pajamas and was ready to go at the crack of dawn Saturday. She and her 8-year-old brother Logan Danielson, both of Cochranton, were also continuing a long-standing family tradition by visiting Mallory Run on opening day.

Their stepgrandfather Daniel Honard and stepdad Chris Honard, a Meadville City firefighter, also fished Mallory Run as children.

“That’s three generations right there,” Evelyn said.

Opening day was welcomed with pleasant temperatures and no precipitation until the early afternoon hours — a far difference from a year ago when fisherman were forced to brave the cold, wind and rain.

Overall, it was a rather successful day.

“Look. We both caught one at the same time,” Matt Leehan said while holding up his third trout that he caught just as his younger brother, Alex, 7, was pulling one in as well.

“Yeah. Look,” Randy Leehan said. “Lines tangled and everything.”

Regular trout season runs through Labor Day. Fishing is permitted 24 hours a day. In addition to a fishing license, a trout/salmon stamp is required for trout anglers 16 and older.

Lisa Byers can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at lbyers@meadvilletribune.com.

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