SANDWICH – Twelve-year-old Max Milam of Plano fishes as often as he can, usually every day. He said once he started fishing, he loved it – he was hooked.
“I’ve been fishing since I was 3 years old,” Milam said. “I don’t really like sitting inside and playing video games. Fishing is very energizing and fun. It’s great to be outdoors, and I love reeling in the fish. You just have to have patience.”
On June 2, Milam and his two brothers, 10-year-old George and 5-year-old Ryker, were three of the more than 60 children that attended the 10th annual Kids Fishing Derby, hosted by the Sandwich Sportsman’s Club, 1011 Hartman Trail in Sandwich.
The event included more than three hours of free fishing on the club’s Parris Lake, a free hot dog barbecue lunch, door prizes and raffles. Trophies were awarded to the children who caught the most fish, the three biggest fish and the smallest fish. Worms were donated by the Lake Holiday Marina and families could bring their own fishing pole or be provided with one for use.
Adults could help cast and bait, but the children were required to catch and reel in the fish themselves. Once caught, the fish’s length was measured and they were released back into the water.
The free event included raffles with items donated by local businesses, organizations and clubs. The raffles raised $350 for Go Baby Go, a Tri-County Kiwanis’ project that retrofits battery-operated cars for toddlers with spina bifida and mobility programs. The car enables the children to interact on the playground, be more active and socialize with their peers.
“We want to thank so many local businesses that supported us by donating door and raffle prizes or cash donations,” said Sandwich Sportsman’s Club Treasurer George Van Dee. “We can’t do this event without their support.”
Van Dee first attended the Kids Fishing Derby with his son nine years ago.
“I loved the event so much, I joined the sportsman’s club,” Van Dee said. “Now I help plan and organize it every year. What I love about the fishing derby is that it’s more than learning how to fish. It’s about families spending time together.”
That’s the same idea Shaun and Erin Legge of Sandwich had when they registered for the event with their two children, Fiona, 10, and Gavin, 3. Although they didn’t catch any fish, they did win one of the raffle prizes.
“I remember fishing when I was younger, and it was a good time with the family,” Shaun Legge said. “It’s about relaxing outdoors in the fresh air.”
David Mueller, secretary on the Sandwich Sportsman’s Club board, said that he remembers going fishing as a boy with his father at Camp Nawakwa in northern Wisconsin.
“Fishing teaches you patience and discipline and how to pay attention to your surroundings,” Mueller said. “It’s a social activity where you get to talk to family and friends and learn respect for nature and animals.”