In June 9 IssueBy Kim GrahamTimes Journal Reporter
Sunny, sultry weather marked the 25th Annual Catch a Rainbow Kids Fishing Derby at Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery last weekend.
Undeterred by the sweltering heat, 1,350 young anglers and their families participated in the heritage event.
Hatchery Creek was carpeted with children age 5 to 15 throughout the day casting their bait to the more than 3,500 trout released for the occasion.
Kids age 1 to 4, with cane poles in hand, surrounded kiddie pools full of eager, hungry trout in hopes of hooking a keeper.
WCNFH Project Leader James Gray was pleased with the event's success despite a slight drop in attendance from last year's 1,525 youngsters.
"I think it went really smooth," Gray said. "The numbers were down some and I don't know if it was due to higher gas prices, the heat, or other competing events but we still had plenty of kids at the fishing derby."
Attendees partook of free hotdogs, popcorn, cotton candy and drinks complements of area sponsors who donated to the event.
All participating kids received a complimentary Catch a Rainbow t-shirt and a prize such as a tackle box, rod and reel, sleeping bag, camp chair, or camp lantern.
In each age group of young fishermen, tickets were drawn to choose winners of bicycles, another mainstay prize of the derby.
Newcomers to the event expressed their gratitude for the generosity of the event organizers, sponsors, and volunteers who made it all possible.
"Thank you all for a great time," Jeremy Coogle commented on Friends of WCNFH's Facebook page. "I can't wait to come back to visit the hatchery and attend the next derby."
On WCNFH's Facebook fan page, Laura Moore Gross of Lexington expressed her delight in their maiden trip to the fishing derby.
"My family attended for the first time this year and it was such an amazing event! Thank you to all the organizers, sponsors and volunteers who made the day so memorable," said Gross. "We look forward to going again next year!"
Throughout the day, children and families were entertained by old friends Smokey the Bear, Ronald McDonald, and the hatchery's own Goldie Goldfish.
Other activities included the FLW Fantasy Fishing boat simulator and the Ducks Unlimited Archery Shoot.
Kids also sported artwork from face painting and airbrush tattoos to commemorate their day at the derby.
In each age group, trophies were awarded for the largest fish caught.
Henry Elijah Hall of Richmond, KY, in the 5 - 6 year old group, caught the largest fish of the day weighing in at 8 lbs. 6 oz.
For many families, Catch a Rainbow is a tradition being imparted into posterity.
"After 25 years, we're getting into the 2nd generation of participants in the kids fishing derby," said Gray. "There's a lot of people who came here as kids who are now bringing their own children."
He has aspirations of the derby's endurance for years to come.
"I hope we're around for another 25 years," Gray said.