Lions planning kids fishing derby

    The Wilmington Lions Club will sponsor its annual kids fishing derby on Saturday, June 23, at the pond in the South Island Park in Wilmington, weather permitting.
    The Lions took over as event coordinator in 2015. The derby was previously sponsored by the Island Park District which decided to stop hosting it. The Lions thought kids and fishing were an important tradition to continue.
    “The members want to give kids what is often their first taste of fishing that for some, will become a lifelong pleasure,” commented Lion Darla Neises, one of the derby organizers. “We have such wonderful fishing opportunities here in Wilmington.”
    Lot’s of coordination go into hosting the derby; Jerrick and Ivana Longest from @properties donated chemicals to control the algae in the pond, Wilmington Emergency Services and Disaster Agency volunteers are dredging seaweed, Lion Mary Belter is putting together a special fishing area for the youngest participants. Eric Fisher, publisher of The Free Press Newspapers will tag fish that will bring prizes to the young fishermen who catch them, and the Fisher family made a generous donation to the event. Grillin’ 4 Freedom also signed on as a sponsor this year.
    Lion Bob Neises placed the order for about 250 pounds of catfish, from fingerlings to big fat mudcats, that will be delivered midweek by Richmond Fisheries in Spring Grove, Illinois. The pond will be off-limits to all fishermen until the derby.
    Youth as young as 2 and as old as 17 are welcome to drop a line — the Lions wanted to be sure to include teens looking for something to do on a summer weekend. Children up to 2 years of age will have a special fishing pond with their own prizes, while supplies last. Other ages groups will be 3 to 7, 8 to 12, and 13 to 17.
    All participants will be required to check in upon arrival to receive a number. Registration will be from 4 to 5 p.m. and fishing will be from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
    No fishing will be allowed beforehand. Contestants may supply their own bait, however free bait will be available near the registration table while supplies last.
    All contestants must fish from the shoreline. Only one fishing line will be allowed per participant.
    All fish must be caught by the contestant's fishing pole, without nets.
    All fish caught must be taken to the derby table for official weigh-in by the child.
    Fish caught will be measured and entered on a data sheet by the fishing derby judges. All fish must be released.
    All ties will be subject to a random drawing. The biggest fish will be determined by weight. Award winners must be present at the awards ceremony.
    The assistance of parents or adults is endorsed, however, they cannot fish for their children and children must be actively involved in the catching of all fish. Adults are asked to refrain from tobacco use and alcohol consumption while participating with their children.
    Hot dogs will be served, while supplies last, and ducks for the club’s duck race will be available for sponsorship.
    The Lions kids’ fishing derby is always held the weekend after Father’s Day, weather permitting, so that the holiday serves as a reminder that the derby is coming.