By Janet Bresenham
On the Saturday before Father’s Day, nothing beats spending a beautiful sunny day beside the lake fishing with your dad, your grandpa — or even your mom.
“This is a good Father’s Day gift,” said Kenneth Bobo, who was watching his son Weston fish the waters of the big lake at Ned Houk Park using their “secret recipe” bait during the 16th annual Fishing Derby, sponsored by The Optimist Club of Clovis.
“With this fishing derby, you get a chance to get the kids out and spend time with them,” said Bobo, who has come to the fishing derby every year and also used to bring his two daughters, who are now 18 and 16. “My wife usually comes, too, but she was working,” he said.
Weston, 11, said he has been coming to the fishing derby with his dad “since I was like 2.”
Next to them, Tre Orozco, 9, who was with his father, John, landed a trout to go with his two catfish.
“I like just coming out here and having fun with my Dad and his friends,” he said.
Steven Geisler, 13, and his cousins Tori Thompson, 8, and Jacob Thompson, 4, came fishing with their grandfather, Bill Geisler, and found themselves hooked — line and sinker.
Fishing with her grandpa was “cool,” Tori said. “He tells me to throw out the line farther.”
“My grandpa and I like to fish and go hunting,” Steven Geisler said.
His friend, Dustin Davis, 13, came to the fishing derby with his grandfather, Donald Campbell.
“It’s just fun,” Davis said. “I caught two catfish, about 2 pounds each. We’re going to go home and fry them and eat them. We caught some trout but we threw them back.’
While the free fishing derby is not specifically a Father’s Day event, it draws many families outdoors to spend time together, including nearly 70 children who showed up Saturday.
The Optimist Club of Clovis president Jeff Baum said just watching the children’s reactions while fishing shows why the benefits of the event extend far beyond merely winning prizes for catching the biggest fish or the most fish.
“You get a kid that’s never caught a fish and then they do and it’s great for their self-esteem,” Baum said. “And the main thing is they have their families with them.”
Billy and Debi Vaughan were spending the second year at the fishing derby with their son, Beau, and their grandson, Trayson Reyes.
“I like this because you catch a lot of fish and there’s a lot of fish in the lake,” said Trayson, 6, who was using worms as bait. “I caught four fish. I caught a big catfish.”
However, Beau, who also is 6, quickly pointed out that he caught “a lot bigger catfish,” as both boys eagerly pulled their still-wiggling fish out of buckets of water to display.
Isaac Dennis Smith, 2, holding a fishing rod several times his height, reeled in four fish with assistance from his father, Dennis Smith, who was also fishing with his nieces, Vanessa and Aubrey Sandoval.
“I think it’s real cool and it’s neat for the kids to have this experience with fishing,” Dennis Smith said.
Like any true fishing event, there were plenty of stories about the ones that got away.
“I had 11 fish, but three got away,” said Adrian Torres, 8, as he held onto his line at the end of the fishing derby.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service representative Harold Beierman said his agency provided 450 catfish for the fishing derby from the Dexter National Fish Hatchery.