Along the Natchez Trace

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Fishing Derby

One activity that many National Refuges host is a fishing derby.  Aroostook NWR, way up here in northern Maine held their annual fishing derby yesterday.  The small pond just up the road from where our rig is parked is just the right size...  the banks aren't too steep and there's plenty of room for folks to stand, put up lawn chairs or fish in any manner they are comfortable.  Most of the work we resident volunteers do is actually before the derby....  mowing grass, putting up signs, setting out barricades on roads that are off limits, getting trash cans ready and the such.  A local company sets up a Port-A-Potty in a nearby location prior to the big day.   And, the most important thing...  the fish!  The Refuge buys 200 trout from a fish hatchery...  to be delivered the day before the event.
They are brought in holding tanks...  dipped into a bucket and tossed into the pond.
The timing is important...  delivered too many days in advance and the otters are likely to discover this bonanza and have a very expensive meal.

It rained much of Friday, and was still raining Saturday morning.  Registration for the derby opens at 8am and the kids can begin fishing at 9am.  Bill & I were still setting things up when the first family arrived before 7:30 am.
 This is Ron, a member of the Friends group.   His wife, Barb, is tying down the banner that is in back of the registration table.

 Registration started promptly at 8am.  As I wrote, fishing starts at 9am and the kids can fish until 11:30, or until they catch their 4 fish limit.  Each kid is issued a plastic bag to keep their fish in.  
That's Betty on the left.  She's the president of the Friends group and is instrumental in its success.  On the right is Sharon H., another resident volunteer, and that's Bill, taking a break.
Betty had snacks and drinks available at no cost throughout the morning.

 While technically the event is for kids 16 years or younger, this is a family affair.
 Parents and grandparents bring the kids...  they often bait the hooks and help the little ones hold the fishing poles.  They usually are the ones who take the hook from the fishes mouths.  It's a great experience for the kids to learn about fishing, but even better that they participate as a family.

Looking across the pond.....
 Groups of folks...  lined up along the bank.
I think over 25 children were registered to fish.  With the cold rainy weather, the Friends group had hoped for at least 10 kids, so were very happy with the turnout.

 Baiting a hook...

 A very happy boy with his catch...

Travis, a Friend of the refuge, brings his niece and nephew each year.
We became friends with Travis a couple of years ago and were happy to catch up with him again.

 Barb, doling out snacks to a hungry fisherman.

 A little help means a lot....

 Hey!  Look at what I caught!

 Did I say it rained all morning?  These guys got tired of fishing and had a blast playing in the mud-holes.

 Weigh in time...
All four (or less if they didn't catch 4) fish are in the kids bag.  Barb has a digital scale that records the weight.  The total weight of the entire catch is recorded next to the kids name.  At the end of the derby, the top 3 winners will receive a prize.  The prizes are at the end of the table...
Very nice prizes, too....  a camp chair from Cabela's, a fishing rod and a package of fishing gear.

 Oops!  This guy got a fish hook stuck in his finger....  
No surgery was needed...  just some pliers and a band-aid.

 The First Place Winner!
I didn't get his name...  but he caught his 4 fish limit fairly early and weighed in.  Off and on all morning, he anxiously checked with Barb to see if anyone beat his record.
I believe his 4 fish weighed a total of 1 pound, 7 ounces.  
There was a tie for 2nd place, but both winners had left before the prizes were awarded.  They'll be notified and given their prizes later.

Still misting rain when the event was over, folks all started to head for their cars and drive home.
By noon the parking lot was nearly empty.
We volunteers took down the tents, the banner, the signs...  we loaded the pylons in the trucks.  Betty took the leftover snacks and the tables and chairs back to the Friends office in the Visitor Center.

Bonnie and Christina had been manning the Visitor Center all morning and would keep it open until late afternoon.  

It was cold, it misted rain all morning... but the kids and their families all seemed to have a great time.
Many of them were already talking about where they thought the best spot would be to fish from next year.

That's All For Today!


  1. What a wonderful event! It looks like everyone was having a great time - and the kids sure look happy! LOVE your Header photo.

  2. You certainly qualify for the "tough" award. My teeth chattered.

  3. Looks like the otters will have a little feast on the leftovers. Great activity even in the wet weather.

  4. What fun! Although I'd just spend my day at the snack table.

  5. A great activity and outing for the kids (and the parents, too). Too bad it rained, but it didn't seem to dampen the spirits and despite it, they all had fun.

  6. In many locales, if people can't find a way to have fun in the rain, there'd be no fun had. Can you tell I live in Oregon? Born to live wet. The lakes and streams here are full of "relocated" hatchery fish. There's now even "bait" I'm told, that resembles hatchery feed, since they're used to being human fed.

  7. What a wonderful thing for kids and their families to do together. I remember they had a fishing event when we were at Hagerman Wildlife Refuge. It actually, took place about a week before we arrived. Your pics are great showing the fun EVERYONE had!!!!

  8. wow! look at the jackets and hoodies! …. HOT aroun heah!

    fun family times … I don't fish but it is a great family todo. beautiful place to todo in too.

  9. Now that sounds like a fantastic family outing, too bad about the rain.
    I remember taking my children to events like this, such a great time we had.

  10. The weather looks dreadful, but you had a great turnout and it looks like everyone had fun! Congrats...