Fishing derby brings smiles to kids’ faces |

Fishing derby brings smiles to kids’ faces

by Dave Price

The 10-year-old blond boy, both of his hands wrapped around a rainbow trout, flashed a smile and proudly held up his prize as he kneeled on the bank of Willow Creek at Lampe Park.

And as C.K. Baily would announce so many times … “That’s what the Kids’ Fishing Derby is all about.”

Smiles and fish, lots of both, could be found Saturday and Sunday during the ninth annual Kids’ Fishing Derby. A total of 2,400 children passed through the gates to cast their lines into Willow Creek for an event billed as the one of the largest, if not the largest, free fishing derbies in the country.

Highlights of the derby can be seen on Douglas County Community Access Television Channel 26 this weekend in the Carson Valley – on Talk of the Town, hosted by Charlie Noble. The show will be aired at 6 and 12 a.m. and p.m. all three days.

Some of the numbers are mind boggling for the derby, co-sponsored by Kids’ Fishing Derby Inc., the Douglas County Parks and Recreation Department, Lahontan National Fish Hatchery and the Nevada Division of Wildlife.

Nearly 250 volunteers make the event possible, from the board of directors to the various men and women who come out to help the young anglers go through every step of their experience.

Equipment is supplied (poles may be borrowed if the child has none), baiting the hooks, rigging the poles, netting the fish, untangling lines, even weighing and cleaning the fish afterward. And every child receives a prize afterward, whether they reach their two-fish limit or not, thanks to various sponsors in the community.

Willow Creek itself was stocked with 6,500 fish, donated by the Lahontan National Fish Hatchery and Nevada Division of Wildlife.

Baily, a mobile disc jockey from Carson City, has been the derby’s public address announcer the last five years. He provides instructions over the public address system, direction to those in need of assistance, interviews young anglers who have pulled in a good catch, and relishes every moment.

Pretty impressive for an event that began with 400 participants in 1990 – billed by organizers Mike and Sue Solgat as the Reel in Summer Fishing Derby.

“What this is all about to me is seeing the little kids in the arms of their parents spending the most quality of time together that you can,” Baily said. “That’s the most fun … a new generation of anglers, and the smiles on all their faces … that’s what keeps me coming back.”

Craig Calvert of Gardnerville was there with four children, ranging in age from 3 to 12.

“I had a ball. So did the kids, though they get a little distracted. Ronald McDonald walks by and they’re turning around and looking,” Calvert said, as he turned his head and used his hands in a reeling motion.

Ever see anyone smile while they were cleaning fish? Meet Marty Swisher and Denise Terry, Carson Valley Middle School teachers who volunteered their services this weekend to clean fish.

“This is my first year … and I’m loving it,” Swisher said.

“My 5-year-old son, Jacob, got to fish this morning. It’s not serious. He caught a couple of little guys; he was just excited to bring them in.”

“They don’t care,” Terry chimed in, “unless they come up here and see somebody else has something really big. Then they go, ‘Wow.'”

Denise and Sean Terry have been on the board of directors the last two years and have been active with the derby for nine years in all. On this day, Sean was helping young anglers on Willow Creek while Denise was cleaning fish.

“I just love to watch the kids and the way they come up here; they’re always excited and happy,” she said. “One girl came up here a while ago and told me, ‘My name is Carly and I named my fish Carlos,'” she said with a laugh.

The biggest fish caught? Jolie Kizer pulled in a 6.98-pounder that measured 24-1/2 inches long on Saturday and Anthony Anderson caught a 5.4-pounder that measured 24-1/2 inches.

“There’s still an eight-pounder out there,” derby chairman Doug McCoy pointed out.

So, even though another Kids’ Fishing Derby has ended, you can bet the kids will still be out there fishing.

And that is what it’s all about.

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