Special to The Sun
Inclement weather threatened Saturday’s All American Kids Fishing Derby at Arcadia Lake, but the dispersal of overnight showers made for a cool and calm morning ideal for dropping a line.
The serene setting attracted nearly 100 children and adults to the annual event at Arcadia Lake’s Spring Creek Park. While it was a competition, event organizers provided door prizes and welcome bags for each of the young anglers as the derby kept its focus on reaching families and highlighting the lake as a family friendly venue.
“It’s a great form of community service,” explained Richard Davis, 56, of the City of Edmond Parks and Recreation Department. “Families come out and get their kids outside for some fishing.”
Fellow Parks and Recreation employee Charlene Wood, 61, agreed with Davis, and said during her seven years with the event she has seen repeat participants, but the first timers always make the derby enjoyable.
“They are the ones that get the most out of it,” she said with smile. “Sometimes we get parents who have never fished before and go out and buy their kids their first fishing rod the night before. It’s always a good experience helping them.”
Peng Li, 45, of Edmond was one of the “first timers” alluded to by Wood. Li knew of the event, but until this year, he was unable to attend with his two daughters. After a few hours on the lake, he was convinced of the derby’s viability.
“It’s pretty cool,” he said. “It gets the kids excited to be out in nature.”
Before Li could elaborate his daughter Vivian, 8, called him away to put another worm on her hook because sometimes nature can be dirty and slimy.
Vivian wasn’t the only participant with a dislike for live bait.
“I don’t like worms,” said Ronny Johnson, 11, of Jones. Her solution was to mix up a batch of homemade “dough bait.” As she combined cereal and punch bait into little balls, she succinctly stated her love of fishing, “Catching them. That’s the fun of it.”
More than an hour into the contest Ronny had yet to reel in a fish. Farther down the shoreline, 11-year-old Chandler Johnson of Marlow’s day at the lake was a good one.
“I probably caught more than anyone else today,” proclaimed the competitive youth. And it was not luck that he hooked multiple fish. Chandler is an avid fisherman and hunter. He even has “fish stories” about the ones that got away.
While those are great to tell, Chandler likes the fish he can keep more, “It’s fun to catch them, clean them … they taste good frying in a skillet.”
Chandler’s Saturday didn’t end with a fish fry. The derby is strictly catch and release, but it could not take away his enjoyment.
“This is pretty cool,” he said. “I like this, and I think I would like to do it again next year.”
Chandler’s father Shawn, 42, had the same assessment as his son. “It’s pretty nice to get the kids out and spend time with the family.”
With a large family, Brad and Angela Smith are always looking for opportunities to spend time together as a family and the derby is that chance to involve Blake, 9, Addison, 7, Ella, 5, and Ivey, 3, all at once.
Angela, 45, particularly likes the event’s organization, “They’ve enjoyed it. It’s been a fun couple of hours. If it wasn’t on the calendar, we wouldn’t have taken the time.”
Brad, 45, was also glad his family made it out to the lake, “I’m sure the prizes are neat, but the kids aren’t playing video games this morning.”
Ronny certainly was not playing a game Saturday morning. She was determined to catch something, and minutes before the final weigh in, her dough bait paid off. It may have only been a small perch, but according Wood, at the derby, the size of the catch is not important.
“No matter what they catch,” she said, “they love it.”