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Crowds of kids return to revived fishing derby

Aug 04, 2023Aug 04, 2023

By AARON ROGERSDaily Press CorrespondentAfter two years on hiatus due to COVID-19 — and then a third year off thanks to last summer's Black Fire — the Aldo Leopold Kids Fishing Derby returned Saturday morning at Lake Roberts.If success is measured in the number of smiling kids, the event's return was a huge success."The Gila National Forest and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service do a great job of providing anglers with opportunities to catch Gila trout," said Jason Amaro, longtime supporter of the event and Gila trout advocate.In addition to the fishing, participants learned about protecting endangered species, fly-tying, fly-fish casting and even archery, which were among the stations set up for their benefit. Smokey Bear was on hand to lend a helping hand and put some smiles on kids’ faces."The kids have really started to get into the archery in recent years," said Ray Trejo, another outdoors advocate, who was manning the archery range.When the kids caught their fish, they took them to a station to be weighed and measured, as well as recording the species and the name of the angler. Prizes were given out to the participants who caught the most fish, and the first 100 kids also received a backpack with some goodies in it from the U.S. Forest Service.According to Amaro, there were about 150 participants this year and they expect the event to grow again as they plan additional events for the future."We have one clan who has come to every event since 2017, all the way from Laguna Pueblo," Amaro said. "This event is more about catching memories than catching fish."One young angler learned an important lesson."Fishing requires patience," said sixth-grader Bridget Marley Callan. "But when I caught my first fish, I felt very proud and wanted to do it again.""We had about 150 participants this year," Amaro said. "If you missed it this year, don't worry. There were almost 1,000 large Gila trout that were stocked. Get out there and catch a few fish."Aaron Rogers may be reached at aaron@scdaily