It’s the annual rite of spring in Bonne Terre, when kids take their fishing poles and favorite bait to Lakeview Park for the Bonne Terre Chamber of Commerce Kids Fishing Derby.
Saturday’s fishing competition begins with registration at 7 a.m., then reeling in fish from 8-10 a.m., followed by an early lunch of free chips and hot dogs. Trophies are announced and prizes given out at 11 a.m. Kids 15 years and younger can enter without a fishing license during the duration of the event. As soon as the horn blows and the event is over, though, a Missouri fishing license becomes necessary.
“As long as they’re fishing under the auspices of our event, they’re good to go,” said Chamber Executive Director Leigha Head. “But once the horn sounds and the event’s officially over, it’s necessary to have a license.”
Kids who don’t have a pole may find some luck at Bonne Terre Memorial Library, where they can check out fishing poles and tackle boxes.
According to Head, trophies will be given for most fish caught and for the biggest catch in three age groups: Up to age 6, ages 7 to 12, and ages 13 to 15. Head said as long as the kid competitors can do a lot of the fishing on their own, they’re welcome to compete— she said it’s just important to remember it’s a fishing derby for kids.
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“The really little kids definitely need help fishing, that’s for sure, but we want to make sure it’s a fair competition, too, and that they’re all given a chance to compete with each other, instead of well-meaning adults,” she said.
Volunteers will come around to measure the fish and count how many competitors caught. Head said they still need a few volunteers to spread out around the perimeter of the lake to keep track of the kids’ catches.
“It’s a fun day and goes really fast, we should be done by noon,” she said. “And it’s so fun to see the kids’ faces when they reel in the fish. They’re so excited.”
More information can be found on the chamber’s website and Facebook page, or by calling the Bonne Terre Chamber of Commerce at 573-358-4000. The chamber’s Facebook page is facebook.com/BonneTerreChamberofCommerce.
“This is probably one of my favorite events of the year,” she said. “Last year we had more than 200 fishing, and we hope to reach 250 kids this year. I hope they’re back-to-back at the lake this year.”
Head said each registrant will be given a goodie bag, and the chance to win a larger prize like a bicycle, or a Hoverboard. Numerous games, toys and fishing equipment are also in the offing.
“It’s incredible how many prizes we have this year,” she said. “We have three Hoverboards, nine bikes and a Nintendo Switch and flat screen TV. Some of the prizes were donated, but many sponsors just gave us money and told us to go buy some prizes. I bet I spent $700 on them, in addition to what was donated.”
Sponsors for the fishing derby include A1 Home Care, ODACS, First State Community Bank, PAi Bonne Terre, Belgrade State Bank, Unico Bank, Parkland Health Mart Pharmacy, New Era Bank, C.Z. Boyer & Son Funeral Homes, Farmington Signs & Wraps LLC, Bonne Terre License Office, Hub's Pub and Grill Bonne Terre, Potential Therapy Services, Marler's Towing, City of Bonne Terre, Handi-Craft Co, Pharmax Pharmacy, Bonne Terre Save-A-Lot, Dairy Queen Grill & Chill, Domino's Pizza, The Fancy Crow Gifts & Decor, Griffin Automotive Design, Small Town Boutique LLC, Mineral Area College, Donyel Burns, Rita Landolt Realtor, Katherine Effinger Main Key Realty, Main Key Realty Sarah Perry, Southbrook, and the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Sarah Haas is the assistant editor for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at 573-518-3617 or firstname.lastname@example.org.