Hook, line and sinker! The ninth annual Nacogdoches Kids Fish event took place last Saturday at Lakeside Park, bringing in more than 250 fishing enthusiasts.
Kids ages 1-16 participated in the free event, each bringing their own tackle.
Texas Parks and Wildlife, Nacogdoches Parks and Recreation in partnership with the city of Nacogdoches, and a number of sponsors and volunteers, including the Coastal Conservation Association hosted the event.
“It is a wonderful community event that promotes outdoor activity,” said Brian Bray, director of community services of the city of Nacogdoches.
Texas Parks and Wildlife dropped in roughly 800 rainbow trout for this event.
“Rainbow trout are typically easy to catch, good for easy stock, and do well in cold water. Also, after the event, they won’t last through spring, so there will be no competing with the native species,” said Heath Braggs, game warden for Nacogdoches.
Rainbow trout are typically not seen in this area since they begin to die out when waters reach above 60 degrees. “The main reason for this event is that it gets kids outdoors and into fishing,” Braggs said. “We’re using our resources here. Besides, the outdoors are healthy and good for you. We hope to pass this on to future generations. We’re counting on these kids.”
Raffles were held every hour, and a number of prizes were given out. There were prizes for the biggest fish caught, the smallest, the largest of any species (right at noon, the record to beat was a 1.4-pound bass), and the heaviest stringer (top weight of five fish). Young children were seen playing with extra bobbers and were fascinated with tackle boxes. Others were decked out in full-fledged camo, vests and fly fishing outfits. One young boy stepped all the way into the water, about knee-deep.
“The kids really just have a hoot doing it,” said Jared Satterwhite, a volunteer. Volunteers from the fraternity Phi Delta Theta were also present to help with setup, registration and cleaning of the fish. Brookshire Brothers provided the food, and Nacogdoches firefighters did the cooking. Suddenlink was also there for support, handing out balloons, as was Head Start, handing out snacks. The Nacogdoches Bass Club performed all of the weigh-ins of the fish. Derby’s Machine Club helped, too. Overall, a lot of community members came together to “give kids an opportunity to come fish,” said Destiny Smith, recreation superintendent.
Operation Game Thief had a truck display of stuffed critters native to the area, including a bald eagle that was found dead in Nacogdoches as a result of the shuttle landing. They also offered the 2014-2015 Texas Parks and Wildlife Outdoor Annual Hunting and Fishing Regulations pamphlet, brochures about water safety and careers in law enforcement, an information sheet on wild hogs, an informative coloring page of Texas wildlife tracks, and a complete coloring book of various wildlife.
If participants visited the different learning stations they had available, including safety and ethics, fish anatomy and habitat, knots and tackle, and learn to cast, then they were awarded an authentic Texas Parks and Wildlife Junior Angler certification.
Topping last year by at least 50 participants, only good words could be heard about the event this year. All the organizations and volunteers are looking forward to it again next year