Bruce Ajari: Prepare the youngsters’ tackle for annual Kids Fishing Derby | SierraSun.com
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Bruce Ajari: Prepare the youngsters’ tackle for annual Kids Fishing Derby

I have some great memories both as a child and as a father when it comes to fishing. I was very fortunate to have a father with a passion for fishing that he passed that on to his sons. Each Father’s Day I think of my father, who passed on at an early age. He instilled the fishing bug and the love of the outdoors in me.

I have tried to pass this fondness on to my children who are now both quite grown up. One has graduated from college and the other has a couple of more years to complete school. Some of the most memorable experiences occurred during the Annual Kids Fishing Derby in Truckee.

Since Bob Tilton founded this Derby when he was the owner of Truckee Sports and Awards in the 1980s, the derby has become one of the premier youth activities in our region. This is the 21st annual, if my accounting is correct, and Tilton and his family are still deeply involved with this endeavor along with the Truckee Noon Rotary and the Nevada County Fish and Wildlife Commission.



Tilton saw this as an opportunity to give youth something to do and to keep them out of trouble. It was his observation that kids who got into fishing seemed to be able to stay out of trouble.

With so much for children to do these days, a simple connection between fishing and the outdoors seems like a really good one. I have to agree with Tilton that kids who get really involved with fishing seem to do well in life.



The 21st Annual Kids Fishing Derby will be held at the Cold Stream Pond, located in Donner State Park pond beyond the Holiday Inn Express, on Saturday, July 18. The official hours of the event are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The sponsors request that no fishing be done in the pond prior to the start.

The event is free to children 12 and younger. Sponsors ask that you sign up at Mountain Hardware and Sports in advance so they can get an idea of how many children to expect and thus have an adequate number of prizes.

Children will need to have their own tackle. Unfortunately, some children have shown up without gear and there has been none for them to use in the past.

The fish that are supplied by the Nevada County Fish and Wildlife Commission are augmented by a load of trophy fish purchased by the Truckee Noon Rotary and the Tilton family. Jim Dill, the chairman for the Truckee Noon Rotary, tells me that trophy fish will be put in by Mt. Lassen Hatchery again this year.

Dill says volunteers are also needed to help out. If you know how to fish, you can be of great assistance in helping some of the neophytes to the sport. Come and volunteer four hours of your time. It is great and the families and kids are very appreciative!

The Rotarians also provide a reasonably priced barbecue during the event. Be sure to support them so they can continue to provide a high-quality event. They do a great job!

Dads should bring their kids out to the derby and start their own memories upon which to reflect in later years. Even if you do not fish, getting started is pretty easy. The fishing department at Mountain Hardware can help you get started with the equipment and how to rig it.

Here are my annual tips to help make the experience a good one for the kids:

• Make sure they are well rested the night before.

• Arrive early to get a good spot to fish and park.

• Have plenty of snacks and liquids to keep them hydrated. If you forget them, don’t worry, since the Rotary will have a snack bar selling drinks and lunch items. This money helps fund this event, so it is important to support them.

• Have some other things, like board games, for them to do to keep them occupied prior to the beginning of the event.

• Patience on the part of your child and you is a very necessary component. The more of this you have, the better the experience will be for you and your child.

• Prior to the event, check out the fishing tackle. One of the most common problems I see at events like this is not having an adequate amount of fishing line, or old line on the reel. Not having enough line will cause lots of problems in casting, and your child will not be able to reach the fish. Most people place four- to eight-pound test line on their reels. Any one of the locations listed for sign-ups can provide more tips. While lighter line casts farther, it is not as strong when it comes to playing a fish. Six-pound test was always a good compromise for me.

Having old line can cause immense problems as well. Old monofilament line tends to be very brittle. In fact, it breaks so easily that you can actually break the line while casting out your bait. Even worse is that it can break when your child has hooked a fish.

• A spool of lighter line than the main line is recommended for a leader, along with some weights (split shot and egg sinkers are good), hooks (No. 8 to 12 are a good option) and simple baits (Berkeley Powerbait and salmon eggs are the easiest).

– Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident and regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.


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