Teach ’em to fish while they’re still young | SierraSun.com

Teach ’em to fish while they’re still young

Bruce Ajari
Gone Fishin'

A year seems to go by so quickly. Once again, it’s time for the Annual Kids Fishing Derby, started by local sportsman Bob Tilton.

Tilton had a vision to draw youngsters into the sport, providing children an option for healthy recreation while keeping them out of trouble. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the event.

The kids fishing derby has become a part of local Americana. Events such as this make Truckee the wonderful place it is in which to live. I would venture to say that just about every family in the area has had some sort of involvement during the many years the program has been in existence. My daughter even mentioned it over the Fourth of July weekend when she was up and we went fly fishing in the Truckee with her boyfriend.

The derby will take place at the Donner State Park pond, recently named Michael’s Pond, beyond the Holiday Inn Express and Chevron station on Coldstream Road on Saturday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. The event is free to anglers 12 and younger.

Youngsters and their parents are encouraged to check in at Mountain Hardware and Sports ahead of time to get a tentative head count and get some good advice from the fishing staff on tackle and techniques.

Children will need to have their own tackle in order to fish. Unfortunately, some children have shown up without gear and there has been none for them to use in the past. A very limited amount of gear may be available to those who cannot supply their own.

Rotary Chairman Jim Dill wanted to be sure and to mention his appreciation for the help provided by the Tilton family, Ray Butler of the Nevada Fish and Wildlife Commission and Mountain Hardware.

In addition, he wanted to be sure that Jamie Lyle and Umpqua Feather Merchants got credit for their frequent support of the event. Lyle runs a fly fishing tackle business.

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.

– Make sure participating children 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 the kids hydrated. If you forget them, not to 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.

– 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 you can actually break the line while casting out your bait. Even worse, 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 No. 12 are a good option) and simple baits (Berkeley Powerbait and salmon eggs are the easiest).

– While it is a derby, it is not all about competition. It is about spending quality time with your children and introducing them to a wonderful sport.

– Have fun!

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