RIDGWAY — With the arrival of warmer weather comes the excitement of casting for tagged trout in Elk County.

The Ridgway-Elk County Chamber of Commerce will host its annual “Trout-A-Thon” event, open to fishing fanatics of all ages, April 13 through May 31.

The month-and-a-half-long event awards around 1,000 prizes donated by local merchants, said Ridgway-Elk County Chamber President Tom Fitch. Last year, more than 300 prizes were awarded, and the event keeps growing each year.

More than the prizes, though, the event is about fellowship and tourism, Fitch said.

The Domtar Fish & Game Club uses its fish restocking program to provide the fish, Fitch said, as does Straub Brewery of St. Marys. They put in some “monster” fish, too, including 20 to 30 “really huge” fish this year.

Thousands of people come to fish from other states like Michigan, and even as far as Canada, Fitch said. The next Trout-A-Thon will be even bigger, with “bigger money” fish available for catch.

“This is a big fishing town,” Fitch said. “There is no charge — we’re just trying to take advantage of these things in our area.”

The Trout-A-Thon also incorporates a special weekend of activities for children and families.

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The first annual Mountain Fest, with more than 70 vendors, was also held in January. The Ridgway-Elk Chamber, with other organizations like the Elk County Wilds Tourism Association, are always teaming up to create more events, Fitch said.

“We are hoping to draw people into the area, and for them to see what we have here,” he says.

Participating Elk County waterways include Laurel Run Reservoir, Elk Creek at Dagus Bridge, Big Mill Creek, Ridgway Reservoir, Powers Run, West Branch of the Clarion, Crooked Creek, East Branch of the Clarion and Little Toby Creek, according to the Trout-A-Thon Facebook page.

After May 1, prizes for catches are given on a first-come, first-served basis. Prize tags can be redeemed at the Welcome Center at 300 Main Street in Ridgway. For more information, call the Ridgway-Elk Chamber at 814-776-1424.

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