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Credit: Fort Morgan Times
R.B. HEADLEY, Times Sports Editor
More than 300 show for fishing derby by R.B. HEADLEY, Times Sports Editor Tuesday, June 23, 2009
The fish were definitely biting during Saturday’s annual Youth Fishing Derby at Riverside Park. Many new fish were stocked in the ponds on Friday.
A bearded, long-haired Tom Hanks and his spear from “Castaway” didn’t make an appearance, nor did anyone copy Homer Simpson’s drop-your-bug-zapper-in-the-lake fishing method.
Because the more than 300 youths who learned true fishing techniques at Saturday’s annual Youth Fishing Derby clearly turned this event into a blockbuster success.
“We were thinking maybe 150 to 200, so we’re obviously thrilled,” Fort Morgan Recreation Coordinator Brad Weese said while standing near the ponds at the east end of Riverside Park. “It’s a great way to start Father’s Day weekend with a lot families fishing together. The weather cooperated (cloud cover, but little rain) and we had tremendous help.”
The Sunrise Optimist Club, Wal-Mart, Murdoch’s, Fort Morgan Recreation Department and Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) volunteered many hours while teaming to sponsor this derby. DOW provided more than 300 free fishing poles and stocked the ponds with many new trout.
It only took a few moments to see these efforts were worthwhile, as most bites on Saturday morning didn’t involve mosquitoes.
Nate Miner was beaming as he displayed his catch to grandpa, grandma and anyone else who was standing nearby.
Smiling sisters Carys and Ellise Kudron both squealed a bit while closely checking what dad Cary Kudron had hooked. Many moms like Juanita Ciegling also showed there’s no gender bias surrounding this sport.
“It’s good family fun,” said local DOW representative Todd Cozad. “It’s good for kids to be outside, to learn different ecosystems and how they all work together. Plus fishing helps kids learn a lot about independence and gaining self-confidence.”
DOW also provided a fishing clinic which focused on fishing ethics, casting, knot tying and fishing ID regulations. Free gift bags were distributed with tackle, a Colorado fishing map, coloring books and information on fishing fundamentals among the items.
Participants who dressed up like Huck Finn or Becky Thatcher were eligible to win a brand-new bicycle.
“Seeing so many kids smiling today makes all the behind-the-scenes stuff worthwhile,” Cozad observed. “The Sunrise Optimist Club and parks department were both extremely helpful. Logistically, it’s great to see all these organizations working together.”
Weese added the rec department definitely plans on making this Youth Fishing Derby an annual event.
“I’d like to thank all who made the day go so well,” he concluded. “I think it was a lot of fun for everyone.”