Area residents are encouraged to grab the kids, the fishing rods and head over to the Rochelle Wildlife Conservation Club on June 23 for the annual kids fishing derby.
The event is put on by the Northern Illinois Bass Masters club and will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is free for anyone who wants to attend and includes a lunch, a free gift for every boy or girl and prizes being given out all day.
“We are a bass fishing club and we have been doing this for the last 33 years. It is an all free event for the children,” said Marty Gorsuch, President of the Northern Illinois Bass Masters. “All they have to do is bring a fishing pole, we supply the bait and the Rochelle Conservation Club supplies all of the food.”
The derby was started by Rodd Doser, a former member of the fishing club, and has continued to grow in size with over 100 kids attending every year.
“Years ago, the Bass Masters offered to come out and have a kid fishing derby once a year. They talked to us about it and we have been doing it ever since,” said Bob Burgett, president of the Rochelle Wildlife Conservation Club.
The kids participating in the derby are split up into three separate age groups and compete within each of these groups for a grand prize.
“We have three age group categories, and the kids who catch the most fish in each category get a trophy, and their choice of a new bicycle or a fishing combination,” explained Gorsuch.
The event is put on for the kids to have a fun day fishing and possibly win some new equipment. The fishing club brings out their bass boats for the children to see and they give out a prize to every kid who attends as they leave. While the derby is focused on the kids, it also benefits the Rochelle Wildlife Conservation Club.
“People can come out, see how the club is and maybe join. We have fishing, an archery range, camping, events every month, and lots of wildlife to see,” explained Burgett.
The Kids fishing derby is supported by a number of sponsors throughout the year that donate money to the Northern Illinois Bass Masters.
“We will accept any donations from anybody, we are a not-for-profit, and any donation goes to the kid’s derby. It doesn’t go to any other portion of the club,” Gorsuch added.
To participate in the fishing derby participants may show up at the conservation club during the event times with a rod and reel. For more information on the Rochelle Wildlife Conservation Club and membership prices, visit the organization’s website at Rochellewildlife.org.