People of all ages turned out at Olalla Reservoir near Toledo on Saturday, June 1, for the annual free fishing derby co-sponsored by Georgia-Pacific, the Association of Western Pulp & Paper Workers Local 13 and the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife.
Christine Clapp, a fisheries biologist with ODFW’s Salmon and Trout Enhancement Program, said they registered a total of 123 young people for the event, which coincided with the annual Free Fishing Weekend. That meant that both young and old alike could fish during the derby, and throughout the weekend, without needing a fishing license.
“It’s a ton of fun. It’s a great opportunity and a great location to get families out fishing together,” said Clapp.
ODFW greatly increased the chances of fishing success for the young people taking part in Saturday’s event by stocking 2,500 “keeper size” rainbow trout inside a netted area, as well as another 250 trophy fish — those around 16 inches or more in length. Adults could only fish outside the netted area, but over the past couple of weeks, ODFW stocked around 7,000 fish in the reservoir.
Willie Worman, AWPPW’s environmental representative, has been helping to coordinate this fishing derby for about the last nine years. The goal was to also promote this as a family activity. “That’s the idea …. to get more of the adults out here with their kids,” said Worman.
Originally this event was held in April, coinciding with Earth Day. But the decision was made last year to move it to June and tie it in with ODFW’s Free Fishing Day. “It was an experiment last year (moving it to June) just to see … we had so many more participants,” Worman said. The weather is much more favorable in June, as well. “It was nice to be able to support that as an Earth Day function (in April) … but the problem is there’s times where you’re huddled all together and the rain is coming down sideways and everyone’s shaking.”
But that wasn’t the case last Saturday, where clear, sunny skies greeted those who turned out for the event. ODFW provided rods, reels, tackle and bait for the day. Members of the Central Coast Fly Fishers and Longview Hills Fishing Club were once again on hand to help participants set up their gear, cast, catch and even clean fish. Young people could also make their own fishing lures.
Tom Peck, president of the Central Coast Fly Fishers, was one of the volunteers helping people with fishing gear, and a lot of his time was spent repairing rods. “Since we’re fly fishermen, we know all about gear rods,” he said with a laugh.
Although fishing was the main draw, there were other activities, as well. People had the chance to try out one of the kayaks provided by Virginia Tardaewether. Those who were new to this activity could receive guidance from Gary Corkum. Youths also received gift bags from Georgia-Pacific, and face painting and rock painting activities were offered, as well. In the parking lot, food was available for purchase from Bristo’s Bistro of Siletz.
There were also a variety of prizes handed out during the fishing derby, donated by AWPPW and Georgia-Pacific and purchased from Big 5 Sports, which offered a nice discount, said Worman. “At the end of the day we draw prizes for the kids,” he said. “For the adults, the heaviest individual fish of the day is the grand prize, and then we do first, second and third heaviest legal stringer of fish of the day, so largest five fish.”