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Worthington Optimists to host fishing derby Saturday

WORTHINGTON -- In conjunction with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) Take a Kid Fishing Weekend Friday through Sunday, the Optimist Club of Worthington will host its annual Kids Fishing Derby from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Chautauqua Park.

During the DNR event, Minnesota residents 16 and older fish for free when they accompany an angler younger than 16.

Optimist organizer Snuffy Kruger isn't sure how many times the derby has taken place, but he's been involved with it for at least 20 years.

"We normally get 50 to 60 kids, and have it the same weekend as the Take a Kid Fishing event so parents don't need a fishing license," Kruger explained. "Everyone has a pretty good time."

Participants need only supply a rod and reel -- the Optimists supply bait and some hotdogs and lemonade to keep the junior anglers fed. The kids are divided into three age groups, 6 and under, 7 through 10, and 11 and up. Any fish caught are weighed, and prizes for the biggest fish are awarded. All of the fishing is done from shore.

Kruger said the event has been his project for quite a few years, hosted specifically during the DNR weekend so parents who aren't sure how their kids will take to fishing don't have to go through the expense of getting a license.

"It's a way to get the kids out fishing and having fun, and maybe they'll stick with it," he said. With help from the Optimists, parents who aren't sure of the ins and outs of the sport can get a hand with walking their children through the process.

Last year, the kids caught walleye, crappies, bullheads and even a catfish during the event. There is no fee to participate.

Daily Globe Reporter Justine Wettscbreck may be reached at 376-7322.