(Left to right) Vyanna Acevedo, 8, Miguel Vega, 12, and Gustavo Moreno, 9, were among the young anglers and their families participating in the 25th Annual Jr. Trout Fishing Derby on Jan. 18 at Sunbeam Lake county park west of El Centro. | Elizabeth Villa photo
SEELEY — More than 200 children hoping to catch the big one attended the 25th Annual Jr. Trout Fishing Derby on Jan. 18 with the young anglers and their families arriving as early as 6:30 a.m. to register.
The event at Sunbeam Lake
county park west of El Centro was sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of El Centro
for youth ages 15 and under. Organizers said 225 children entered in part for a
chance to win a prize for catching the largest fish in their age category, but
mostly to just have fun.
Each participant received
a free yellow t-shirt, which served as another layer to protect against
the under-50-degree weather. Most people had cold hands and red
noses, but by the start time of 7 a.m. the youth were full of energy
and casting their lines into the lake.
When asked what bait was
being used, participants indicated use of a variety, including spinners, mice
tail, PowerBait, PowerBait dipped in salmon eggs, night crawlers, chicken
livers and even marshmallows. Most were using a three-prong hooks.
When the kids caught
a fish, they couldn’t stop grinning in pride and, of course, the parents,
grandparents, aunts and uncles and friends couldn’t be happier to see
“This is my first
time. It’s nice, weather is good, nice atmosphere for kids and (I’ve) met
a lot of friendly people today,” said parent Natasha Jackson from
Even those with a bit
less luck than others were able to put a good spin on the morning outing.
“We are letting
everyone else catch them first; we will catch a few later,” parent Xavier
Rodriguez said sarcastically when asked if his group had caught any fish.
Putting the fishing derby
together was no small feat, organizers explained. Coordination was
required among state Department of Fish and Wildlife, Imperial County Fish
and Game Commission and the Kiwanis Club.
“This is one of the
signature events with over 100 youth with families enjoying a beautiful morning
and our goal is to provide youth enjoyment and family activities,” said Alex
Cardenas, a Kiwanis member.
“We were successful in
planning with County of Imperial and want to thank (county) CEO Tony Rouhotas,
and Fish and Game for stocking Sunbeam Lake with thousands of pounds of trout
so that fishing should be excellent for kids,” he added.
Lake Stocked With Fish
A few days prior to the derby
the park was closed to fishing in order to restock the lake with trout to
increase the chances of youth catching fish.
In addition, the Imperial
County park rangers worked maintaining and cleaning the park for the
“The derby gives the
kids something fun to do and many families come,” said ranger David
Added ranger Luis
Pacheco, “I enjoy seeing kids when they get their very first fish.”
Noting he has been a
Kiwanis member for about a decade, Jason Jackson of El Centro said the
organization focuses on helping youth in education, arts and recreation,
including through scholarships, foster children horsemanship and Kiwanis “key
clubs” at Imperial and Southwest High Schools. As such, the fishing derby
is consistent with the club mission.
“I have seen hundreds
(of kids) catch their very first fish,” he said. “They bring their
own tackle and fishing gear, and the more experienced Kiwanis members will go
around and help them. The end goal is to have a good time and catch fish.”
The culmination of the
experience was when the young fishers went to the Kiwanis table to measure
their fish to determine if they were a prize winner. The prize summary as
provided by the Kiwanis club was:
to 5 girls: #1 Eden Enders
6-8 girls: #1 Alexis Weir, #2 Yazmin Ham Acosta