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Ronan kids enjoy fishing derby

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RONAN- World War Two veteran and Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall committee chairman Arnie Armstrong looks out across a sea of 250 laughing and smiling children at Ronan’s Bockman Park. 

“It’s all about the kids. This is best city park in the country. I wanted the kids to have something to do in it, something to get them outside,” he says. 

At this, a little girl runs past, flashing a grin while holding a trout bigger than her leg. Armstrong smiles and gestures towards her as she hurries towards her parents with the trophy; “That’s what it’s about.”

An annual event, the Ronan Kids Fishing Derby kicked off Ronan’s Pioneer Days celebration by stocking the creek with roughly 500 fish donated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife fisheries in Crescent City. A screen under the bridge gave participants a better fishing experience, and two large tanks containing 85 trout were placed under the pavilion for the pint-sized anglers. Surrounded by eager children with the determined look of combined hopefullness and anticipation normally seen in seasoned veterans, the ponds were criss-crossed with fishing poles of all sizes, shapes and colors. 

Armstrong produces a brand new fishing pole and lure from beneath one of the tables and hands it to a father-daughter pair, explaining that he keeps several at the VFW hall for just such an occasion. 

Not far away, Ray Wieting and his family fish off the southern bridge railing. While the fish don’t seem to be hungry, a family of muskrats appear within feet of the family to investigate the bright red bobbers. 

“It’s a pretty good deal,” Wieting said. “The kids are having a blast; we’ll probably do it again for the next couple years.”

Armstrong said the fishery had offered to provide 100 fish per week to stock the creek, but he would need outside help to make that dream a reality. 

“I’m getting old,” he laughed. 

Even so, all signs point to the event continuing for years to come.

Around 11 a.m., Armstrong and several other members of the VFW began handing out prizes to all the kids. Sponsored by a host of local businesses and Pepsi Co., prizes included frisbees, balsa wood airplanes, water bottles, bike helmets and stuffed animals.

There were no prizes awarded for the biggest fish or most fish. Rather, the hope was to promote the idea that if the kids were having fun and enjoying the outdoors, everyone was a winner.

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