Keystone State Park No. 5 in nation for family fishing, boating
Fishing in a Derry Township park is among the nation's best, according to the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation's recently released list of America's Top 100 Family Fishing and Boating Spots.
Keystone State Park ranked No. 5 on the list and was rated the top spot in the Northeast region. The park ranked 18th on the 2014 list.
By consulting with state fishing and boating agencies, the foundation constructed a list of 280 family friendly fishing and boating locations nationwide. Keystone's location, amenities and variety of stocked fish species cemented its spot in the top 100, but public support propelled the park to its top 5 spot.
According to communications director Stephanie Vatalaro, the foundation developed a list of criteria for family friendly fishing and boating locations.
“These are parks that are near a public body of water, easily accessible within an hour's drive of a big city, part of a state or city park that has family friendly amenities like parking, restrooms, picnic tables and playgrounds,” she said. “We gave preference to parks that were full of fish. If they had stocking programs, that was a plus. Easy-to-catch species that beginners would have an easy time with.”
As evidenced by its high ranking, Keystone easily meets the foundation's criteria in every category.
“We do have a good fishery here as far as trout fishing and warm water. It's a very good bass fishery, but I think what makes it ideal and appealing for kids and their families is the ease of access to the shoreline,” park manager Kris Baker said.
“There's campsites right on the lake. We have a walking path that goes around the whole lake. There's very close parking for those who have physical limitations that would limit them from taking a longer walk. We have handicapped fishing access where they can park literally 15 yards from where they're going to fish.”
The park's recreational offerings not involving a rod and reel are another big draw for families with children who may not have the patience of a more seasoned angler, Baker said.
“Kids by nature, unfortunately ... lose their interest rather fast if the fishing isn't stellar,” Baker said. “Because of the way we're laid out here, we have a wonderful playground, a beach area, a nice picnicking area and an outstanding boat concessionary that does rentals and has all the fishing equipment one would need there as well. There's other opportunities to take kids to.
“They can fish for a little bit and then go swim for half a day, or they can go rent a boat and kayak and come back and fish. They can take their family for a walk or bike. There's all those things that wrap into it that make it easy for the kids to enjoy. That's what I believe sets us apart.”
After the foundation compiled its initial list of 280 locations, it enlisted the public's input to determine where each family friendly fishing and boating spot should rank. With more than 280,000 total votes cast in the 2015 top 100 selection process, Keystone needed plenty of local support to check in as highly as it did.
“We certainly encourage the state agencies to promote their own parks, and I know Pennsylvania did some outreach around it, trying to get their contingency excited about it and voting for their places,” Vatalaro said. “They kind of get picked up organically, too, and passed around. Everybody's got their favorite place to go, and they want to see it win.”
The votes that have been rolling in for Keystone over the two years the group has published the list have not been the result of any campaigning on the park's part, Baker noted.
“We were ranked last year as well, and I haven't got the foggiest idea how this is happening because the Bureau of State Parks and Keystone State Park, we are not promoting it or trying to bolster our odds to get more votes,” Baker said. “I'm finding out the same time as everyone else when it's released and I see it in print. The public must really enjoy coming here and like what they're seeing, because that is who is doing the voting totally unsolicited.”
Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2913, or firstname.lastname@example.org.