Hooking kids on fishing: Area organization has opportunities for state’s license-free weekend
WORTHINGTON — Fishing equipment, an adult and a youth is all that’s needed this weekend for a fishing outing at lakes across the state.
In conjunction with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource’s Take a Kid Fishing Weekend, area organizations will host fishing events for residents to further take advantage of the no-license required weekend. A fishing license is waived Friday through Sunday for Minnesotans 16 or older who take a child 15 or younger fishing.
As has become tradition, the Optimist Club of Worthington will host a Kids Fishing Derby on Saturday. From 9 until 11:30 a.m., youth ages 15 and younger can try their hand at fishing with Optimist Club volunteers at Chautauqua Park in Worthington — rain or shine. Participants must bring fishing equipment, but bait will be provided by Marv’s Bait.
Hot dogs and lemonade will be furnished. Door prizes will be distributed at the end of the derby.
According to club member Snuffy Kruger, the fishing derby is one of a handful of youth-oriented activities sponsored annually by the club that has adopted the motto, “A friend in youth.” The fishing derby, Kruger added, has been hosted by the Optimists for at least the past 25 years.
“If you can get the kids out here and outside and they’re having fun, maybe they’ll continue to fish as they grow older,” the longtime club member said about the annual event. “Maybe then we’ll keep them from getting into any trouble.”
Youths in Jackson County will also have a similar opportunity from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Brown Park in Jackson. Casting will be from the large dock on Pearl Lake.
Hosted for the 23rd year by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and area businesses’ contributions, youths up to age 12 can enjoy a day fishing with Jackson County deputies, dispatchers, jailers and sheriff’s reserves.
“It was started as a way to get kids hooked on fishing,” said Jackson County Sheriff Shawn Haken. “Other sports like football, volleyball, baseball, etc. come and go for kids. We see fishing as a great activity for them to get into that they can do their entire life — and, in this day and age of Xbox and Playstation, it’s a great way to get kids outside.”
Participants may bring their own fishing gear if available. Otherwise, the sheriff’s office will have equipment and live bait. Limited boats will also be on the water for youths wanting to fish that way.
A free meal in the shelter and prizes will be given away at the conclusion of the event.
Cottonwood County kids will also take advantage of the license-free weekend during the Windom community’s 35th-annual Riverfest celebration.
From 10 a.m. to noon, youths will cast off at Cottonwood Lake during the Cottonwood County Game and Fish League kids fishing tournament. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m., and bait will be provided.
According to longtime Cottonwood County Game and Fish League member Bill Mielke, anywhere from 50 to 100 kids is typical, depending on weather. Participants ranging from 3 to 15 years old will be divided into three age classes. The league will also furnish a T-shirt and small prizes.
“Everybody that comes gets something,” Mielke said.
The league has sponsored the event for more than 40 years not to be a highly competitive tournament, but simply to give parents an opportunity to spend time with their kids in nature, Mielke said.
“The purpose isn’t to be the best fisherman or catch the most fish, but hopefully have Ma or Pa bring the kids out,” Mielke said. “Nobody has time to spend with their kids, and hopefully this will help a little bit.”
For more information about the DNR’s Take a Kid Fishing Weekend, including beginner’s tips and a lake locator, visit dnr.state.mn.us/takeakidfishing.