A gentleman shows off his catch at Hatchery Creek at the 5th Annual Senior Fishing Derby.
A young participant stops to smile and pose while enjoying the 5th Annual Reaching for Rainbows Special Kids Fishing Derby.
Brisk autumn air and vivid tree foliage welcomed anglers to the 5th Annual Catch A Smile Senior Fishing Derby and Reaching For Rainbows Special Needs Kids Fishing Derby held at Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery September 25th and 26th, 2012.
Fishing enthusiasts aged 62 and above lined the banks of Hatchery Creek below Wolf Creek Dam the 25th and special needs students from Russell and Clinton County School Districts came out the next day. Participants fished for three hours at Hatchery Creek in anticipation of catching trout.
Entrants in both derbies were treated to lunch after a morning of enticing a trout onto their hooks. All participating seniors were registered to win over 100 door prizes donated by area sponsors. Young anglers at Reaching For Rainbows were awarded medallions and t-shirts to commemorate their accomplishments of the day.
The Senior Fishing Derby is intended to return outdoor experiences to those whom might not otherwise have the opportunity to fish or enjoy time with friends near the water. The Special Needs Kids Fishing Derby is an opportunity for youth to learn about the great outdoors and get in the recommended 60 minutes of daily activity. For most of the students it is the only time each year they get to experience the enjoyment of fishing.
Both events have been growing each year with an estimated of 150 seniors in attendance at the Catch A Smile Senior Fishing Derby and 81 students were a part of the Reaching For Rainbows Special Needs Kids Fishing Derby.
Hatchery staff and volunteers joined forces to insure both days flowed effortlessly and folks enjoyed their experiences. Wolf Creek NFH and Friends of Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery, Inc. work with school systems in Russell and Clinton Counties to identify local special needs participants. The events would not be possible without the tireless hours put in before, during, and after the events. The derbies brought in about 60 staff members, assistants and other volunteers to the event.
The event coincides with the Annual National Hunting and Fishing Day (NHFD) scheduled on Saturday, September 22nd, 2012. Congress formalized National Hunting and Fishing Day in 1971 as a way to recognize hunters, anglers and conservation. This nationwide effort aims to bring national recognition and media attention to the value of hunting and fishing and reinforce their role in conservation. To learn more about NHFD, please visit the event website: www.nhfday.org
Article and photos submitted by Kristi Pupak, USFWS.