Annual Fishing Derby draws in kids

FAIRMONT – About 50 children showed up on a cloudy and cool Saturday morning to participate in the annual All-American Fishing Derby held at Gomsrud Park.

“Most of the kids have a few other people with them, so we have over a hundred people participating,” said Dave Vogel of Bass Seekers, which puts on the event with the Early Morning Kiwanis club of Fairmont.

While the event was back to its regular place after being held at Sylvania Park last year, participants still needed to make some adjustments at the last minute Saturday.

“I got a call from them saying, ‘We need more clothes,'” said Chris Engelby, whose twin daughters Emily and Ashley were participating in the derby. “So I dug out jackets, hats, gloves.”

The gray clouds and temperatures in the mid-50s was a drastic change from the 80-degree weather seen the day before. But that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the fishers.

“She just caught her first fish in three years of being here,” said Susie Riley, who was supervising Kimberly Reed. About half an hour later, Reed had caught another mini bass.

“We’re seeing lots of little bass,” Vogel said of the fish that were biting during the fishing derby. “We had one sheepshead, the rest have been bass.”

That was until Troy Nemmers and his daughter Meredith showed up with a catfish.

“There are prizes for the biggest fish and the smallest fish, things like that,” said Harlan Gorath of the Kiwanis. “But we also have door prizes that we draw for, so everyone will walk away with a prize.”

There was also a casting line contest that helped the young fishers improve their skills.

The All-American fishing derby is open to children ages 5-16, and must have adult supervision. Every fish caught was weighed and then released.