On June 1st, I participated in The Dallas Bass Hookers’ “Kid Fish” Fishing Derby. The event was co-sponsored by the City of Cedar Hill, TX Parks & Recreation Department. The Dallas Bass Hookers is one of the oldest bass clubs in the country. This is my first full year as a member, but the club has been holding this event for many years.
A fishing derby is similar to a fishing tournament, however there are some distinct differences. Some of the differences are…in a derby, live bait is allowed. Also, there are no restrictions on the species of fish, the number of fish and the size of the fish. Participants may weigh in any fish of any size, and as many as they can catch.
That is why fishing derbies are usually associated with promoting youth fishing. When attempting to introduce young people to fishing, it is very important to hold their interests. Having the ability to weigh in any fish they catch, helps to keep kids from becoming discouraged. Fishing derbies are also a great way to get first-timers involved in the sport, while at the same time providing them with incentives for their participation.
Being a bass tournament angler, I tend to become consumed with competing. Like most competitors, I tend to focus on winning and nothing else. That focus can sometimes cause us to lose sight of why we fish in the first place. We fish because we love it! Before there were any bass tournaments in our futures, before there were any checks to cash or trophies to win, we fished simply because we loved it! Because we are competitors, sometimes we lose sight of that fact. However, by working with the kids and seeing how much fun they were having, it helped me regain some perspective.
As I walked around the pond, assisting the kids and speaking with the parents, I was reminded of my own childhood and how my parents got my siblings and I involved in fishing. My love of fishing started at a very young age, and continues today. If a kid shows an interest in fishing (or in anything for that matter), it should be nurtured and cultivated. There were a lot of first-timers participating in the derby. These are the kids who have never been fishing before. To see the looks on those kid’s faces and to hear the excitement in their voices when they caught a fish, I knew from that moment on they were hooked (no pun intended)!
One of those first-timers was 7 year old Mya Dennis. Little did we know, but this momentous day would hold a few firsts for this young lady. Mya was so excited when she caught and reeled in her first fish…ever! Her excitement was reminiscent of a child on Christmas morning, who awakened to learn she had received everything on her wish list. Yeah…she was THAT excited! Not many kids can say that their very first fish was a fat 5.50 lb. catfish! Or that their very first fish was the biggest fish weighed in at a fishing tournament! Well…Mya can now say that she did both! And of course, Mya also took 1st place in the 4 – 7 year old division.
The event was a rousing success, with about 150 kids participating! There were three age divisions: 4 – 7 years old, 8 – 11 years old and 12 – 15 years old. Each division awarded trophies to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishers. Congratulations to all the winners, and thank you to all those who participated in helping make this an event the kids will remember for a long time!
In closing, I would like to quote the first line from the song “Greatest Love Of All” by the late great Whitney Houston. The line goes ”I believe the children are our future…teach them well, and let them lead the way”. When you teach a kid to fish or when you take a kid fishing, you are not only doing something nice for them, but you are also doing something nice for yourself! And who knows, maybe one of the kids you help will grow up and become a Bassmasters Classic champion… hey, you never know!