Community fishing derby celebrating 20 years Annual event encourages children to try out and enjoy the sport of fishing.

When they planned the first few Fishing Derbies, founding members of what became the Fort Wayne Community Fishing Club probably never envisioned the event still would be going strong 20 years later.

Anthony Truelove, one of those founders and the club’s current treasurer, said they’ll celebrate that milestone at this year’s derby, which will take place 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at the pond in Reservoir Park, South Clinton Street and Creighton Avenue.

Club members like to say that if they can keep one child from getting into trouble by getting him or her interested in fishing, the 20 years of fishing derbys have been worth it, said Truelove, who owns nearby Lafayette Bait and Tackle.

“That’s what keeps me going,” he added.

The derby started as a grassroots event organized by people in the community who love fishing, Truelove said. After a few years, organizers decided to create the nonprofit Fort Wayne Community Fishing Club to help them with raising money to put on the event.

On the morning of the derby, the club pays to have the Reservoir Park pond stocked with about 250 to 300 adult channel catfish averaging 1 pound or more, said Willie Jordan, club president.

The event regularly attracts about 300 people, and fishing club members hope more than 400 people will come out for this year’s 20th anniversary event, it said on the club’s website, www.fortwaynecommunityfishingclub.com.

The event’s focus really is on helping children try and have fun with fishing, Jordan and Truelove said.

Ages 16 and younger and senior citizens can fish for free, Truelove said. They ask adults to make a $10 donation.

The club has about 20 rods and reels for use by children who want to try fishing but don’t have their own tackle, Jordan said. With a $5 deposit, a child can use the fishing rod for the entire derby and receive his or her $5 back after returning the gear.

The club also will have a limited amount of bait available for children to use, Jordan said.

Other people will need to bring their own bait, Truelove said. Suggested baits include night crawlers, dough balls and artificial worms.

The fishing club will award prizes in both boys and girls divisions for the three biggest fish caught at the derby, Jordan said. Children also can win prizes in other contest activities, such as Beaman’s Backyard Bass Contest, which tests their ability to identify fish and to cast bait accurately.

The bass contest is named for James Beaman of Auburn, a fishing club supporter whose family asked that memorials go to the club after his death last year, Jordan said.

In addition to the fishing, children ages 17 and younger receive a free lunch and snack, Jordan said. Adults can buy food for a minimal fee. <br>

<center> Go fishin’ </center><br>

WHAT: The Fort Wayne Community Fishing Club’s annual community Fishing Derby invites children to try out and enjoy the sport.

WHEN: 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Pond at Reservoir Park, South Clinton Street at Creighton Avenue

COST: Free for ages 16 and younger and senior citizens; $10 donation requested for adults.

INFORMATION: www.fortwaynecommunityfishingclub.com or Fort Wayne Community Fishing Club on Facebook