By Jim Newell
The little tikes might be telling tall tales after Orion Township held its annual Youth Fishing Derby at Camp Agawam on Saturday, giving kids new fishing poles and families a chance to spend some quality time together on Tommy’s Lake.
The Oakland County Kayak Fishermen bought kids’ poles for an adult competition – the Kids’ Pole Pike Challenge – and then donated the poles to the township for this year’s fishing derby, said Jason Crisp, site runner for Oakland County Kayak Fishermen.
After the (Pike Pole) tournament’s over with, we donate all the rods and then throw this tournament for all the kids, get them fishing and, hopefully, teach them some stuff they’ve never seen before,” Crisp said.
“Jason and his group put on the youth fishing derby for us. They get sponsors, and it’s a free event for the kids,” said Orion Twp. Parks and Recreation Program Jesse Hayes. “The kids come and get poles and bait and the guys help them fish.”
Each kid in the fishing derby – 35 registered – got a pole, bobbers and worms.
“This is the fourth year we’ve partnered with Orion Parks,” Crisp said.
The Youth Fishing Derby began after the Oakland County Kayak Fishermen didn’t have anything to do with the poles from the Kids’ Pole Pike Challenge. That’s when Crisp and his colleagues proposed a youth fishing event to the Parks and Rec. Director Aaron Whatley and Supervisor Chris Barnett.
“They said, ‘Great, but we don’t have anybody to run it.’ So, we took on the challenge,” Crisp said. “The kids love it. They get to pick their own poles and take them home with them.”
And kids – and parents – don’t need to know how to fish in order to participate.
The first year, I remember one family where no one knew how to fish. We set them up with rods and taught them and they took off from there and fished the whole day and had a blast,” Crisp said.
The important thing, said Crisp, is for families to unplug from technology, “step back, take a breather and go fishing.”
“You don’t see little kids fishing anymore, it’s a dying sport. If I can get one kid fishing and see the smile on his face when he catches a bass, it’s worth it,” Crisp said.
Crisp said the Youth Fishing Derby is always on the free fishing weekend.
“That way the parents can get involved. They don’t have to buy a license, they can try fishing for themselves,” he said. “I’d like to thank Sam from Oxford Mobile Gas Station. He’s made it possible for us to get these rods at a discounted price. Then he donated all the worms, all the bait, everything.”
Oakland County Kayak Fishermen has a public group on Facebook for anyone who wants more information on joining the group.
Visit orionparks.com for more on parks and recreation programs throughout the summer.
For more photos see June 12 issue of The Lake Orion Review