Sat, Sep 18, 2021
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Toledo Lions find a keeper with first Kid’s Fishing Derby

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Kids and their families showed up by the dozen Saturday for the Toledo Lions Club’s first Kid’s Fishing Derby. Organizer Penny Lancaster said 131 participants were involved with almost 40 prizes given out to the top anglers.

Saturday’s Kid’s Fishing Derby was a rousing success for the Toledo Lions Club, with 131 participants turning out at Wallace Pond (South Lewis County Park) for this fist-time event.

Forecasts of rain held off for much of the morning as kids raced to catch the biggest fish they could, while being assisted and cheered on by family and volunteers.

Up for grabs were a number of prizes from local sponsors, which included rods, reels, tackle, hats, swimming vests, and a top prize of custom rods by Gary Loomis and Rod's Customs Rods. Organizer Penny Lancaster said so many prizes had been donated the club could award the top 39 anglers of the day, while kids were also given an opportunity to sign “Thank you” cards to be sent to derby supporters.

Taking home top fishing honors for biggest fish, and a custom fishing rod, was 7-year-old Alex Luna Ortiz, who caught a trout weighing 28.75 ounces, while second place went to 6-year-old Cooper Fallon with a 27.13-ounce trout and third place went to 5-year-old Sawyer Reed with a 26.75-ounce trout. Winning in the category of “other fish,” which included any species other than trout, was 6-year-old Charlotte Anderson, who caught a 15.25-ounce catfish.

Lancaster said the pond had been stocked for the derby just days before by both Tacoma Power and the State Department of Fish and Wildlife, all at no charge to the Lions Club.

Those who did not rank in the prize category did not have to go home empty-handed, as volunteer fish cleaners were on hand to help prepare the catches for cooking, while kids still retained the option to release their fish back into the pond.

Lancaster said this keeping the fish would not have been around much longer into the spring, as sunnier weather leads to algae growing in the pond, rendering the fish inside unsafe to eat. She did comment it would be her ambition to see a portion of the nearby Cowlitz River diverted into Wallace Pond, so fresh-flowing water could stem such contamination.

And she did not go without thanking all the volunteers helping that day, including members of the Lions Club and Boy Scout Troop 324, saying the entire project had been possible only because of their efforts.

“I think they did an amazing job,” she said.

A second fishing derby is expected for next year, with Lancaster stating the club hopes to organize the event during the weekend between Mother’s Day and Memorial Day. Those wising to learn more, or wanting to help plan next year’s derby, may call Lancaster at (360) 864-4455.

Five-year-old Sawyer Reed (top), who won third place in the derby, has one of his trout weighed by volunteers Clancy Holt (right) and Sharon Holt (left).

Donations of rods, reels and other fishing equipment allowed prizes to be given out to the top 39 anglers of the day, including a prize for largest “other fish.”

First-place fisherman Alex Luna Ortiz (left) poses with derby organizer Penny Lancaster (right) after catching a 28.75-ounce trout.

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