June weekends are typically reserved for baseball and softball. But for dozens of area youngsters, this Friday and Saturday were all about fishing.
The Tuttle Creek Lake Association, with support from Manhattan Parks and Recreation, hosted its 18th annual fishing clinic over the weekend. Skilled volunteers instructed children and parents on various topics, such as “water safety” and “how to catch a crappie” at Susan B. Anthony Middle School Friday.
Saturday was the big event, though.
About 100 kids showed up to Jerry Dishman Lake in Anneberg Park to put their newly acquired skills to the test. Leo Schell, of the Tuttle Creek Lake Association, said each participant received a free rod and reel and tackle box.
They also received a free lunch (a hot dog, bag of chips and can of soda), and awards were given in boys and girls divisions for the heaviest fish, smallest fish and heaviest stringer. The winners received trophies and $50 Wal-Mart gift cards.
“On Wednesday, we stocked this with 1,000 catfish,” Schell said. “Most of them average 12 and a half inches and three fourths of a pound.”
It cost about $1,500 to stock the lake, of which Manhattan Parks and Recreation paid half. Schell said the partnership allows residents to fish the lake all summer. He added that other local sponsors such as Wal-Mart, Derick’s Bait and Tackle and McDonald’s make the clinic possible.
After the kids waited patiently for their rods and reels, they took their positions around the lake. The rods were equipped with simple setups—bobbers and a sinker. Some used small pieces of hot dog for bait, while others used the more customary worms.
Strong gusts of winds and limited space around the lake caused some crossed lines, but it didn’t stop 4-year-old Sydney Peterson from catching two fish before most had caught one. It’s not surprising, though. Fishing runs in her family.
Trish Peterson, Sydney’s grandmother, said her late husband Ken Peterson, fished all the time before his death last year.
“Fishing was his favorite thing to do,” Trish Peterson said. “Wherever there was a place where he could hide out from the world and drop his fishing pole in the water.”
Ken Peterson, an insurance claims manager, traveled all over the Kansas and knew all of the state’s best lakes. Trish Peterson said he passed on his love of fishing to his son, B.J. Peterson, daughter, Shannon Kimball, and grandchildren, Sidney Peterson, Logan Kimball and Ian Kimball.
“You know, he enjoyed taking his grandkids fishing,” B.J. Peterson said.
The family thought they would have more time to do this type of thing with him, but the clinic provided a fitting way to carry on his memory.
“I want them to learn those things,” Shannon Kimball said. “I’m obviously not nearly as skilled as my dad.”
Trish Peterson said it’s hard to think of him missing the clinic, but she knows he would enjoyed seeing so many kids interested in the outdoors. With so many digital distractions, she feels it’s good for them to “learn the patience of sitting and waiting for the fish.”
“It just struck me that’s the one thing grandpa would have been proud to know that all these kids are here fishing,” Trish Peterson said.
Being shy, Sidney Peterson didn’t have much to say about her two fish, only that she wanted to catch more—just like grandpa would have wanted.