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Woodland Moose Kids Fishing Derby

2007 - Hooked on Fishing



Photography by Noel Johnson - Click to enlarge.

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By Pat Nelson
Freelance writer living in Woodland, WA

April 22, 2007

Youngsters lined the bank of Horseshoe Lake. Oldsters floated in boats. Osprey flew overhead, searching for fish below the lake's surface. All wanted the same thing: their fair share of trout. It was Saturday, the day of the Moose Lodge Kids' Fishing Derby. Gray and white clouds layered the sky, unlike the day before, which had been clear and sunny.

The attendant at registration was ready for a big day. "Last year, 465 kids registered. This is the fourth year, and every year is larger than the last."

An inflatable boat floated along lazily, its yellow paddles dipping like duck's feet into the water. Nearby, white floats marked the containment net that held the fish for the derby.

I watched as youngsters in rubber boots sloshed along the wet, sandy shoreline toting their fish in wiggling plastic grocery sacks. Others, with poles outstretched, waited for a bite. A white plastic bag containing a fish hung from a tree branch, flopping frantically.

Five-year-old Elisabeth, disappointed to learn that a bite didn't necessarily mean a fish, looked forlorn. Grandma recorded the sad expression on her video camera.

A little fellow wearing boots to keep his feet dry tugged at the legs of his saggy jeans as they dragged in the mud. His big smile showed how much fun he was having, and he wouldn't realize till later that he was cold. One boy, already done fishing, stood by the fence eating a hot dog for breakfast. No one seemed to want sno-cones on this chilly morning.

Over at the fish-monitoring station, a young man named Tyler showed off a nice model of a fish-hatchery that he made for a school project. His dad, a commercial fisherman, had prepared the containment net that held the fish for the derby. A monitor showed movies being taken by an underwater camera, but no fish swam by while I watched. The camera-shy fish chose to stay away from the net, towards the center of the barricaded pond.

At the photo station, Trista Goetz took pictures of the young anglers with their catches. Photos were printed on the spot and sent home to prove the kids had bragging rights.

Next stop: weigh-in. No, not the fishermen; the fish. Who would want to be weighed after eating hot dogs and donuts for breakfast? As of 9:00 A.M. the largest fish weighed 1.45 kg.

At the cleaning station, Eric Tonsager and crew from the Oregon Bass and Pan Fish Club waited for a new batch of fish to clean. "They put 1500 fish in the pen, so that means lots of cleaning," said Eric.

The attendant at registration was ready for a big day. "Last year, 465 kids registered. This is the fourth year, and every year is larger than the last."

Bicycles were awarded as prizes in various categories, and a raffle offered additional chances to win.

When I was a kid, my dad baited lots of hooks for me while I became hooked on the magical experience of fishing. Today while I watched, as many kids as fish were hooked.

Copyright 2007

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