Dozens of children from small tykes casting their first fishing line to preteens with years of experience gathered around Baily Fishing Pond early Saturday for the fourth annual Tom Brooks Memorial Kids Fishing Day. The Carson City Host Lions Club sponsored the event with help from other organizations. The pond was stocked with fish in preparation for the event, which was expected to draw about 600 participants.
On the floating pier over the pond, volunteers coached the kids, casting lines and occasionally untangling lines in the close quarters. When their own lines hooked something, they passed the pole to one of the kids who had not yet caught a fish.
“He’s big,” said Joss Pedersen, 6, after seeing the rainbow trout on the line she reeled in. “It’s the biggest fish I’ve caught. It’s awesome.”
“Good job. High-five,” volunteer instructor Bill Davidor said before securing the fish so Joss’s mom, Michelle, could take photos.
“I love to see kids catch their first fish,” said Davidor, an angling instructor with the Nevada Department of Wildlife. “It’s more fun than catching a fish myself.”
Next up, big brother Nolan, 8, reeled in the family’s third fish of the morning.
“It felt really good,” he said. “I like (fishing) because I get to bring them home.”
Across the pond, Gillian Mandel, 12, found a quieter spot to cast her line. An experienced fisher, this was the first year she needed a fishing license, which her grandmother, Gillian Mellor, bought for her birthday.
“She’s fished here since she was a little dinky girl,” Mellor said from the boulders where she watched her granddaughter. “It’s well worth it. It’s so enjoyable.”
“I like to come here because I love to fish,” said the younger Gillian. “My first year at the first derby, I caught my first 17-inch fish. And I caught a 15-inch on a 2-foot Barbie (fishing) pole.”
The fishing pond wasn’t the only busy spot during the Kids Fishing Day. Across the parking lot, colorful balloons decorated several large bales where kids could test their skills with bow and arrow. Volunteers from the Clear Creek Bowmen club helped participants pick out bows, and coached them on safety and the techniques needed for the ancient skill.
Sean Kavanaugh, 4, went straight for the bright-yellow bow, which was just the right size for his first experience.
“I popped a balloon,” said the young marksman, who was coached by his dad, Trevor.
Sarah Gomer, 11, tried her hand at archery for the first time Saturday. With the guidance of volunteers with the archery club, her skill level progressed through a couple of dozen arrows.
“I think it’s just really fun,” she said.
A.J. Kunter, 10, had archery experience but appreciated the chance to try out different sizes of bows.
“I just think it’s fun and I like the feeling of it,” he said during a break while volunteers picked up the arrows and pinned up more balloons.
The Tom Brooks Memorial Kids Fishing Day was named by friends of Tom Brooks who wanted a way to remember and honor their friend while benefiting children. Brooks was an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed teaching kids about fishing and other outdoor activities.
Besides the fishing and archery experience, the 2013 event featured an inflatable indoors BB gun range hosted by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, a pancake breakfast and other refreshments, Japanese fish art demonstrations, plus prizes and drawings for a variety of fishing gear, bicycles and other items.