Fish Derby encourages youth to become anglers

Karen Bouffard
The Detroit News

Detroit — About 300 Detroit area 7- to 14-year-olds tried their luck at angling Saturday during the 21st Annual Detroit Area Kids Fishing Derby on Francis Lake in Palmer Park.

Each one got a brand new rod and real to fish with, and then take home. Zoe Pacheco, 7, caught her 11th by mid-morning.

Hosted by Hook, Line and Sinker, Inc. and the Detroit Parks and Recreation Department, the annual derby is meant to “provide an experience that will encourage participants to continue to fish and develop fisheries stewardship,” said Gary Williams, President of Hook, Line and Sinker, Inc., who was honored with an award Saturday for more than two decades of organizing the event.

“We have witnessed children coming back to Lake Francis for weeks after the event to fish on their own,” he said. “It’s pretty amazing.”

The lake was stocked with 3,000 fish on Thursday, so there were plenty of fish. Asia Parrish, 9, was among the few who didn’t catch one. But she has no regrets.

“I liked the people helping me and teaching me how to fish,” Asia said. “People were friendly and nice and we got a fishing rod, and these little bags with cups and beads and a certificate with our name on it. I would like to go back next year.”

Detroit Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Angela Peavy said the free event was paid for by a whole host of sponsors.

“We had drawings for all the registered children, and they got hats from Bass Pro Shop and a brand new rod and reel,” she said. “Almost all of them caught at least one fish, and some had eight to 10 in their bucket.”