Diane Myers and her family have been enjoying the annual fishing derby at South Central Park for 16 years. Some adults in the family have been attending the event since childhood, she said. Her 8-year-old granddaughter, Mckenzie Jackson, won a fishing pole for catching the most fish in her age group at Saturday’s event, though she didn’t remember how many she reeled in.
When asked why she enjoys fishing, Mckenzie replied, “Because I get to kiss all the fishies.”
The 25-plus-year event is hosted by the city’s parks and recreation department and the fire department and is run by the North Ridgeville Fishing Club.
Participants caught a variety of fish such as bass, trout, catfish and bluegill. Fishing rods were awarded to those who caught the most fish and those who caught the largest.
Fishing club president Denver Malcomb views fishing as a bonding experience.
“Fishing lets you enjoy the time you have with each other or by yourself,” Malcomb said. “It’s a tradition. We try to get the kids interested.”
The club teaches third-grade students how to fish at the Academic Center through a program called Passport to Fish in late March. Over the past three years running the program, just under 1,000 children have received fishing rods. The grant-funded program is sponsored by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Students are taught basic skills including fish handling, how to use fishing equipment, how to tie proper fishing knots and the environmental impact their choices have on the water supply of both fish and people.
Gene Kleinholz, vice president of the fishing club, said it’s rewarding when members see children they have taught show up for the fishing derby.
“It shows that we are getting some results,” Kleinholz said. “It’s a hands-on experience they can do their whole life. Some of the kids participate in the program because their older siblings did and it’s something they look forward to.”
The North Ridgeville Fishing Club is a volunteer group that meets throughout the year to go on fishing excursions. The club, which has been around for 40 years and has 20 members, meets at 6 p.m. the last Wednesday of each month at the North Ridgeville library.
It hosts several events throughout spring and summer including the Corn Fest fishing derby during Saturday of the annual North Ridgeville Corn Festival in August.
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