By Mary-Justine Lanyon
“Are you excited about catching fish?” “YES,” was the enthusiastic answer from one of the tiny anglers at the Junior Trout Rodeo.
The rodeo, sponsored by the Arrowhead Lake Association for its members’ children 15 and under, took place on April 17 at Tavern Bay.
The bay had been stocked the previous Tuesday with more than 4,000 pounds of fish – a combination of rainbow and lightning trout. A net had been spread across the mouth of the bay to make for better fishing for the children. At the end of the rodeo, it was removed so the fish could swim out into the lake proper.
ALA was planning for 200 youngsters to come and fish. Each received a goodie bag containing cookies, gummy fish, a juice box, crayons and coloring paper.
Orange cones along the shore of the lake created the social distancing required by COVID-19 restrictions.
“This is my favorite event of the year,” said Bob Mattison, ALA’s general manager. “So many people have said how much they love this event. It means so much to them and it brings families together.”
Each child was limited to catching two fish, which they could take home to eat, release back into the lake or donate to Wildhaven Ranch for the eagle.
Since the eagle will only eat whole fish, the ALA Fish committee donated a metal detector to check for hooks or other metal.
Sophia and her father, Matthew, posed by the First Fish banner with the trout she had caught. When asked what she likes about fishing, Sophia said that “it’s fun and I get to spend time with my family.” When Dad Matthew said they would clean the fish together, Sophia backed up a bit with a look of dismay on her face.
“This was a fun event,” said Missy Hillon. She and her husband, Rich, were proud of their sons – Ricky, 5, and Austin, 2 – who caught two rainbow and two lightning trout.
Some of the tiniest participants chose to walk and splash in the water rather than try their hand at fishing.
“The fish are biting well today,” Mattison said. He added that any children of ALA members who did not get to fish today should not despair – they are planning to have another Junior Trout Rodeo in the fall.