Annual fishing derby aims to reel in record crowd this year

By: Cheri March The News Messenger
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Organizers of Lincoln’s third annual fishing derby hope to reel in a record number of young anglers this year. As many as 125 local kids are anticipated to partake in the free Fish n’ Kids Fishing Derby at 9 a.m. Sept. 20 at Big M Fishery off Nicolaus Road. That’s double the size of last year’s crowd, when an unseasonably cold morning discouraged some would-be participants. While they can’t control the weather, derby chair Don Moura said organizers are working to improve the registration process, even developing a derby Web site where parents can download registration forms. “We’re doing everything humanly possible to get the word out and make it convenient for parents,” Moura said. Gear will be provided by the Kiwanis Club, one of the derby’s presenters along with the Lincoln Police Activities League, Lincoln Hills Fishing Group and Big M Fishery. All that is required is that children bring at least one parent, for supervision. Snaring one of Big M’s catfish, bass or bluegill is a first-time opportunity for many area youth, who are often more transfixed by TV than nature, Moura said. “Young kids are so plugged into technology and computer games these days,” he said. “We’re trying to facilitate an outdoor experience for them.” So far, regardless of attendance, it’s been a success. “All you have to do is look at the smiles on those kids’ faces and you know how important it is to them,” Moura said. After hosting the event last year, Big M Fishery owner Joe Parr agreed to make his ponds the official derby fishing hole. “Most of the kids don’t know anything about fishing, but they think it’s just the biggest deal to be out there,” Parr said. “(Last year) some of them caught fish not over six inches long, but to them, it was catching a whale.” The Fish n’ Kids Fishing Derby is open on a first-come, first-serve basis to kids ages 7-12 who live in Lincoln’s 95648 zip code. After the first 125 slots are filled, others will be placed on a waiting list and considered case-by-case. Though fishing is catch-and-release, no one will go home empty-handed, Moura said. Children will leave with a T-shirt, fishing achievement certificate, a commemorative photo of their catch and a full stomach, courtesy of a complimentary lunch from Old Town Pizza. For more information or to register, call 253-3382 or go online to