Reel in the catch! Fishing derby offers free family fun

Fishing can be fun for the entire family. CONTRIBUTED
Fishing can be fun for the entire family. CONTRIBUTED

The excitement of the first tug on the line and the thrill of reeling in the catch – it’s a priceless experience for young anglers and their parents alike.

“When the kids catch a fish, the parents are as excited as the kids are, maybe even more,” said Ron Lavatzky, chairperson of the Dor-Wood Optimist Club Annual Youth Fishing Derby.

Dor-Wood Optimist Club Annual Youth Fishing Derby offers free fun for the family. CONTRIBUTED
Dor-Wood Optimist Club Annual Youth Fishing Derby offers free fun for the family. CONTRIBUTED

The fishing derby – held annually with the help of the Kettering Police Department and Kettering Parks Recreation & Cultural Arts – is slated for June 19 at Delco Park pond in Kettering. The event brings in hundreds of first-timers as well as more experienced anglers between 5-16 years old each year.

“Many of them have never been fishing before, so it gives them the opportunity to try something new,” Lavatzky said. “It’s fun and free.”

Lavatzky is a longtime fishing enthusiast who belongs to two bass clubs. He thoroughly enjoys sharing his love of fishing with youngsters.

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“I grew up fishing in Michigan and I always enjoyed fishing with my son,” he said. “My granddaughter is 16 and she loves to fish.”

Fishing has a variety of benefits for children. Spending time in nature has been shown to reduce stress and increase attention spans in school-age children. Fishing increases patience and concentration, promotes independence, improves coordination and boosts self-esteem.

“And it’s a lot of fun,” Lavatzky said.

Young anglers learn the basics at the Dor-Wood Optimist Club Annual Youth Fishing Derby. CONTRIBUTED
Young anglers learn the basics at the Dor-Wood Optimist Club Annual Youth Fishing Derby. CONTRIBUTED

As a retired Dayton police officer, Lavatzky has seen how valuable activities like fishing can be, helping young people stay busy and focused. And national programs like Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs have been promoting healthy lifestyle for more than two decades.

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“Because we are an optimist club, we want to provide fun and safe activities for kids,” he said. “But if I can help steer one young person in the right direction, I’m happy.”

Contact this contributing writer at djuniewicz@gmail.com.

HOW TO GO

What: Dor-Wood Optimist Club Annual Youth Fishing Derby, a free youth fishing event. Bring your own fishing equipment or use loaner poles. Bait will be provided

Who: Children ages 5-16 and their parent or guardian

Where: Delco Park, Kettering

When: Saturday, June 19

Schedule: 9-9:45 a.m. – registration; 9-10 a.m. – casting demonstrations; 10 a.m.-noon – fishing derby; Noon-1 p.m. – awards

More: Held rain or shine, info at www.dorwood.org/fishing-derby

Tips for a fun family fishing trip

Ohio Department of Natural Resources

  • Have fun. Seeing your child enjoy reeling in their first fish is rewarding. Take pictures.
  • Target areas with a high likelihood of success. Most kids are satisfied catching lots of smaller fish such as bluegills rather than catching fewer, bigger fish such as bass. Catching a few fish on the first few outings will peak children’s interest and make them look forward to the next trip.
  • Use live bait to increase the chance of catching a fish. Live bait is also more interesting for children.
  • Pick a place that is easy to get to, comfortable and safe.
  • Bring snacks, sunscreen, insect repellent and first aid basics. This will make your trip comfortable for everyone.
  • Provide them with simple tackle in working order. Nothing can be more discouraging to a child than complicated equipment or equipment that doesn’t work. Consider giving the child their own fishing outfit – short rods are easier for kids to handle.
  • Above all else, have patience. You will be unsnagging lines, baiting hooks and landing fish for them often. On your fishing trips with youngsters, they will get dirty, fall down or even get a little wet. By taking time to introduce children to fishing, you may end up with a fishing buddy for life.

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