Look around all you want for signs of return to normalcy - I look no further than the decision to go ahead with the 2021 Loveland Kids Fishing Derby, an annual event that has been introducing youngsters to fishing for generations.
The free fishing derby for kids 15 and under will be held at the North Lake Park Duck Pond, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 5. Itís always on the first Saturday in June, a traditional free day of fishing across Colorado. Kids normally donít have to have a license but their parents do, and this is very much intended as a family affair. The annual fishing derby had to be cancelled in 2020 because of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Loveland Police Officer Dave Sloat heads up planning for the derby, as heís done for more than a decade. Rick Golz leads Loveland Fishing Club volunteers. The event is sponsored by Loveland Police, aided by the Loveland Fishing Club, Kiwanis International, Colorado Youth Outdoors and Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which drops hundreds of trout into the Duck Pond just before the derby. (In years past CPW volunteers have provided education on Colorado fishing laws and ethics). The fishing club handles registration, provides bait, loans tackle to anyone needing it, and runs free raffles and provides prizes for largest and smallest trout caught.
As theyíve done for years, Kiwanis club volunteers will provide family priced food and drink, and Colorado Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 52 volunteers will hand out free kettle corn. Also, because the pond gets warm in summer, organizers really want the kids to keep the trout they catch. One of the most popular aspects of the derby is having volunteers clean and cook your fish for you right on the spot.
No cost, but kids need to register
Do it the day of the derby, before starting to fish. That qualifies you for the raffles and prizes. Registration areas will be located at the parking lot of Loveland High School on the east side of the pond, and at Shelter #2 in North Lake Park just west of the pond.
Again, the derby is free and if you lack tackle, just borrow some from fishing club volunteers when you get to the pond. You donít need to be from Loveland, just be 15 or under. Parents, grandparents and older brothers and sisters are encouraged to help make this a family outing.
I for one have missed many things in the past year-plus, but I guess what I miss most are children. As part of the Loveland Fishing Club for nearly two decades now, I have literally been fortunate enough to take hundreds of northern Colorado kids fishing - at the derby, Girl Scouts at their annual festivals at Colorado Youth Outdoorsís Swift Ponds and Colorado Parks and Wildlife clinics at Boyd Lake and Lon Hagler. All were abruptly cancelled in 2020 because of this damnable pandemic.
The Kids Derby is special. Weíre not 100 percent certain how long itís been a Loveland tradition, but it dates back to at least the Great Depression, and itís been a tradition for generations of anglers. I canít recall a derby when someone doesnít approach with a story of how THEY caught their first fish, at the Loveland Kids Fishing Derby.