Derby Day fun |

Derby Day fun

by Sarah Drinkwine and Dave Price
Three-year-old Zachariah Jameson waiting for a bite during Saturday session of the Kids' Fishing Derby.
Sarah Drinkwine |

Even though fish were slow to bite Saturday and Sunday at Lampe Park during the 28th annual fishing derby, more than 1,000 young anglers still had fun casting their lines into some high water in Willow Creek.

“It’s about coming out and spending time with family and friends and having a good time,” said C.K. Bailey, the event’s emcee on Saturday. “Kids don’t care if they catch something. They just want to have fun.”

The derby is held free of charge for girls and boys ages 3-12.

Officials estimate that less than half of the 4,000 fish planted in Willow Creek were caught during seven sessions over the two days. One reason for the slow bite could have been that water in Willow Creek was extremely high due to runoff from the Sierra’s record-setting winter snowpack.

Then again, anglers young and old alike are well aware how any day can be slow for any given reason. Just ask Tiffany Ellis, who participated in the derby when she was a child and now serves as vice-president on the board of directors.

“That’s why they call it fishing, not catching,” she said, laughing.

Likewise, Tyler Creel participated in the derby more than 20 years ago and has returned to help out as a volunteer. This year, he served as the board’s president.

“It was a blast,” he said. “The bite wasn’t that great, but we did have 51 tagged fish caught in the first session. And once again, people in our community came together to make this a great event.”

Five-year-old Oliver Jackson brought some color on Saturday when he showed up for the third session wearing a green shamrock necklace, and then won a trophy for landing the largest catch of the session.

“C.K. Bailey saw Oliver come in and said, ‘You must have the luck of the Irish with you,’” Ellis said.

Matt Herkenrath was on hand for his sixth year as a volunteer.

“I will never give it up … it’s awesome,” Herkenrath said, adding that his 10-year-old son caught his two-fish limit within seven minutes on the creek.

Steve Hamilton, derby spokesman, said he has seen generation after generation participate in the derby.

“We’ve had kids grow up and then either brought their own kids or they’ve come back as volunteers. That tells you it’s a success,” said Hamilton, who has been involved with the derby since his retirement from the U.S. Army in 2003.

The largest catch of the weekend came in on Saturday, when Scott Schroder, 7, pulled in a fish that weighed 5-pounds, 14 ounces.

Notes: Derby officials said leftover fish from the derby were moved to Gilman Pond in Gardnerville. … Grand prize winners from the raffle were announced on Sunday: Jake Fair won the Camo Kid Quad and Alan Peake won the Mad Dog scooter.