By Clayton Huckaby
Kern Valley Sun
This year, the Kern River Valley Elks Lodge put on the annual Kid’s Fishing Derby to get local youngsters interested in the sport of fishing.
The Derby has traditionally been held by the Habitat Club, but when they stopped meeting, its future became imperiled. Seeing the need for such an event, the local Elks Lodge stepped in and made sure the 30 year old event continued running. This was the first year that the Elks Lodge took the helm, but they plan to keep it going into the future.
The Kid’s Fishing Derby gives local children and their parents the opportunity to get out to the lake, fish and win prizes for what they catch. This year, despite the harsh wind, children were out on the shoreline and the dock fishing for the fish that the group had planted.
There was a net that kept the fish within a certain area. This helped to make sure that the children would have a good chance of getting the opportunity to reel in a trout. According to Sherilyn Littlejohn of the Elks Lodge, there were 103 fish caught during the Derby.
The event was a success with 183 registrants showing up to catch a fish and have a good time. It was held at Tillie Creek, which provided an excellent area with plenty of room for the young anglers to grab a spot along the shoreline. The spot was so good that Littlejohn hopes to have the Derby there again next year.
One of the main draws of the event is that it is free to any child that wants to get involved. The children were also provided with a free lunch of hot dogs, chips and a soda. The entire event is funded by local sponsors. The event was also completely ran by volunteer groups that came out. These groups included the Elks Lodge, the local Boy Scout troop, Wells Fargo volunteers and a group called “Teaching Kids to Fish.”
Teaching Kids to Fish is a group out of Ridgecrest who, as the name suggests, go around teaching kids how to fish. They attend fishing derbies from all around Kern and Inyo Counties, and they host classes in Ridgecrest to get children familiar with angling.
Teaching Kids to Fish is run by Billy and Betsy Reynolds. They have been doing this for about ten years and are still going strong. They have one class a week, usually on a Wednesday or a Thursday for one hour. The class is only an hour long but during the class, they are able to show all of the children the tricks of the trade by utilizing a large aquarium.
The program is completely donor funded and free to the children. Neither of the two Reynolds nor their volunteer workers take a salary, but they do run a thrift store to raise the funds needed. The program is specifically tailored to help underprivileged children find an outlet in doing something that is fun and safe. Billy Reynolds explained that the program is open to children of all ages, but participation is contingent on the parents being involved as well.
By noon, as all the children ended their angling, the prizes were ready to be given away. Two children, one boy and one girl, won the grand prize of a bicycle, a tackle box and a fishing pole. The girl, 3-year-old Emerie Ege, had the biggest fish of all the girls. It was 14 inches long. The boy that won was 6-year-old Kota Taylor. His fish was 15 inches long.
The groups then chose one winner from the four age groups. In the 0 to 4-year-old age group, 3-year-old Harper Moffatt brought in the biggest fish. It was 12.5 inches. Rebekah Harwell, 8, brought home the prize for the 5 to 8-year-old age group. Her fish was 13.5 inches. Nathan Richard, 10, brought home the prize for the 9 to 12-year-old age group. The size of his fish was unavailable. Lastly, Raymond Rocha brought home the prize for the 13 to 15-year-old group with a fish of 13 inches.
Overall, the event was a success. Anybody looking to take part in the festivities next year, make sure to look out for the Derby. It typically takes place in June and is a lot of fun for all those involved.