The siren sounded 5 minutes before 10 a.m., giving the eager children and parents an early start to the annual Kids’ Fishing Derby on Aug. 31, hosted by the Buena Vista Optimist Club, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Collegiate Peaks Chapter of Trout Unlimited.
Over 64 kids cast their lines into Town Lake at McPhelemy Park, resulting in 44 fish caught, not including the many near catches and nibbles reported around the hour-long fishing derby.
“I got two fish except they both got loose,” said 8-year-old Serenity Harrington. Her third catch, however, couldn’t escape, allowing her to happily haul in a 10 ½-inch fish.
The second the derby started, excitement grew to see the first boy and the first girl to catch a fish, with suspense mounting from the few misses at the start. Ultimately, the first fish caught by a girl went to 5-year-old Ella McCray within the first 3 minutes, and the first caught by a boy went to fishing derby veteran Colin Eleson, 9, at 5 minutes.
“I won the last one that I did,” Eleson said of the fishing derby. “I won a tackle box, two walkie talkies and two water bottles.”
Seriously focused on his fishing, Eleson also scored the largest fish at 12 ¾ inches; however, after already winning a prize for first boy, he generously donated his second prize to the second largest fish – 11 ¾ inches – caught by 9-year-old Joshua Torrens.
For the longest fish caught by a girl, 10-year-old Taya Martinez caught a 12 ½-inch fish. “Fishing isn’t really my thing, but my brother fishes a lot so he makes me kind of. When he’s nice to me when I’m doing it, it feels nice,” she said.
With the assistance and coaching from her brother, Martinez caught at least seven fish that morning.
The youngest child present to catch a fish was Deane Velasquez, 1 ½ years, who landed an 11-inch fish.
After the fishing derby, prizes were distributed to the winners and families gathered for a hot dog lunch.
“We’ve had a great turnout, with 74 people who attended breakfast and probably about that many for lunch today,” said Optimist president Honora Roberts. “Just a beautiful day today. I’m glad everyone came out for our final event of the season.”
Roberts added that she would have liked to see a slightly bigger turnout. With Seven Peaks Festival taking place the same weekend, the number of participants may have been affected.
“This is probably my favorite event we do every year,” said Optimist treasurer Don Caskey as the young fishers and their parents grabbed hot dogs and chips.