The 12th annual Ocean Shores Elks Youth Fishing Derby brought a crowd to North Bay Park in Ocean Shores on Saturday, May 7.
The derby, which is for children ages 17 and under, was sponsored and organized by the Ocean Shores Elks Lodge #2581. It also now serves as a memorial event for former organizer Mark Swanson, who passed away in December 2019.
Despite persistent winds, cold temperatures, and sporadic rain, the event was well attended — albeit a bit below the turnout of previous years.
“We had 126 kids this year, and we usually average about 175-200 kids when the weather’s better,” said event organizer Curtis Roman.
According to Roman, participants caught around 75 trophy trout that ranged from 3-7 pounds. Prizes were awarded to the three longest lake fish caught in each age category and included tackle boxes and fishing poles donated by Ace Hardware in Ocean Shores. Trophies were also awarded for the biggest fish in each age group — a new addition to this year’s derby.
“The winning fish in every category was over 20 inches, and the biggest fish caught was 27 inches,” said Roman.
A total of 428 trophy trout were placed in Duck Lake the day before the derby. A metal trout fishing pond was also erected and stocked with 200 “panfriers” for the younger participants.
Children over 5 years of age were able to fish from a boat with an assigned guide. According to Roman, this makes the youth fishing derby a particularly unique experience.
“We’re one of the only fishing derbys in the nation that supplies boats. This year we had five boat owners that supplied boats, and the kids were taken out in 45-minute rotations,” he said.
Roman has been involved in the derby for seven years, and began organizing the event with his co-chair Liz Simpson in February. About 35 volunteers helped make the derby a success, and all participants were provided with a free T-shirt and snack bags supplied by the Ocean Shores IGA.
“It’s a great city event. We do it for the kids, it’s strictly a kid’s event. It’s just great to get kids out — get them out of the house and off their computers,” he said.
He strives to improve the event every year, and already has some plans for next year’s derby, including a free raffle for fishing poles donated by the Sierra Club.
“We’re just trying to get kids fishing, that’s kind of what we do it for. If we can get just 10 kids into fishing because of the derby, then it’s a great thing,” he said.