RP Fishing Derby set for Saturday
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By Natalie Gray  May 17, 2013 12:00 am

Grab the kids and fishing poles…the Rohnert Park Fishing Derby is celebrating its 30-year anniversary this Saturday at the Robert Lake.

Open to all children 15 and younger, the Fishing Derby is a public event that invites children and their families to a morning of fishing, snow cones and a hot dog lunch. The event will run from 8-10 a.m., during which time children can register, be given a number and a shirt, fish, be awarded medals for caught fish and spend time with their parents and friends. At the end of the event will be an award ceremony to thank participants and sponsors. Not being a highly competitive event, the only award given on the day will be for biggest fish caught. Everything is free to children and their parents.

“It’s all for the kids,” said Ken Zschach, derby coordinator. “It’s really nice to see the kids having fun together and with their parents.”

According to Zschach, 1,000 fish have been released into Robert Lake for the occasion, with the goal of having as many kids as possible catch a fish. When registering, children will be asked to mark whether or not they have ever caught a fish. If kids mark “no” and then proceed to catch a fish at the derby, they will be given a certificate celebrating the occasion, reading, “I caught my first fish at the Rohnert Park Fishing Derby.” Usually, more than 300 kids participate in the event and an average of 170 fish are caught, said Zschach.

At registration, children will also be given a free t-shirt designed by a child “Artist of the Year.” Each year, kids are invited to submit original artwork that somehow represents the derby (a fish or fishermen, for example) and from the submissions a winner will be chosen as the Artist of the Year, their artwork on each shirt. This year’s winner is 8-year-old Michael Sitternauer.

The event does not offer lessons or classes, but it does give help. There will be some fishing poles ready for loan for those who do not have any, and individuals such as Zschach and representatives from the Outdoor Pro Shop can assist children with their fishing needs. Children will also be given fishing equipment, such as bait and bobbers. 

The event is free, as is the provided fishing materials, food and registration. To learn more about the event and rules, go to www.fishing-derby.org. 

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