As the sun popped up over the horizon Saturday morning, poles and lines glistened in the morning light and would soon assault the water as one of the biggest events in Clay got underway – the annual fishing derby held at Wallback Lake. Hundreds of youth from all over, along with parents and grandparents, came with fishing poles in hand and a wide assortment of lures from spinner baits to grub worms. They came to catch their limit of trout and for a chance at a host of great prizes. It was a successful derby, and no one seemed to leave unhappy. There were other events as well for the adventurous youth to add to the day’s festivities. A casting contest got underway in the parking lot, and plenty of great prizes were given away. It was an opportunity for the participants to show their skills and learn a few tricks of the trade from seasoned fishermen. The prize give away made even the adults’ mouths water just a little bit.
It was all great fun for the kids as well as the parents and others involved. It was all over at high noon, and kids from pre-school to middle school had a great day of fishing. Not all caught the elusive trout, but none went away empty handed. Grandparents and parents who took the time to bring their child out to the derby will give that grandchild or child a greater prize than can be bought and that is the love of the outdoors. There was also another attraction – renowned lure tying specialist and member of the Wild Turkey Federation Joe Crowder was on hand to show the young fishermen the fine art of lure making. Also on hand was Wild Bill from the TV reality show Mountain Monsters to sign autographs and spend the morning with his fans from young to old. Tons of work went into the event, and a big pat on the back goes out to Connie Sizemore; without her diligence and love for the youth of this county, this great event would go in the toilet, as other good things seem to do. There is not much money left in the county to put these things together, but Connie was still able to put together the event without a hitch. She didn’t do it alone, of course; the help from many volunteers assured the success of the event. There were those who did traffic control, handed out prizes, made donations to this very worthy cause, served refreshments, and last, but certainly not the least, Jack Sizemore who was the official round starter with a mighty swing and rattle of the sacred cowbell that got the event in motion. Plain and simple, it is awesome to see that there are still people in this county that care enough to get the youth involved in something other than a game system or a cell phone. There are many who donated items for prizes that need a pat on the back as well. When the little fisherman grabbed a new fishing pole or perhaps a new tackle box and their eyes and smiles lit up the day, it was all worth it. After all, that’s what it was all about. As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “If the only reason you go fishing is to catch fish, then you never went fishing.” Once again, thanks to those involved for yet another successful derby!