News>National Kid's Fishing Day was off the hook, line, sinker
Capt. Gary Myrick, 341st Operations Support Squadron member, shows his daughter Ava, 3, how to hold her fishing pole. The National Kid's Fishing Day event on Malmstrom was open to children of all ages and prizes were available to children ages 3 to 15. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Cortney Paxton)
Brycan, 5, holds his recently caught rainbow trout after having it weighed. Two fishery biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were on-hand to weigh and measure the fish caught during the event for prizes. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Cortney Paxton)
Ian, 11, and his sister Cally, 6, go through some items in their tackle box. They were two of many children who attended National Kid's Fishing Day at Powwow Pond on June 2. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Cortney Paxton)
From left, Aden, 7; Ashton, 7; and Bryer, 12, patiently wait to catch a fish. There were more than 300 rainbow trout stocked in Powow Pond recently, making a fish almost inevitable for children. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Cortney Paxton)
Staff Sgt. Mark Tigbao, 819th RED HORSE Squadron utilities member, shows his son Keean, 6, how to put a worm onto a fishing hook. For some children, this event was their first time fishing. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Cortney Paxton)
James Ward helps Cash, 8, unhook a rainbow trout from his fishing pole. Many Airmen and their families were able to fish without a license as part of National Kid's Fishing Day on June 2. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Cortney Paxton)
by Airman 1st Class Cortney Paxton
341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
6/8/2012 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Rainclouds and gusts of wind filled the skies over Malmstrom Air Force Base on June 2, but hooks, line and sinkers filled the waters of Powwow Pond as several Airmen and their families took part in National Kid's Fishing Day.
National Kid's Fishing Day is a one-day event held annually to allow children, and parents alike, to fish across the state without purchasing a license. Jason Gibbons, 341st Civil Engineer Squadron biologist, headed the event along with help from the 341st Force Support Squadron.
"Even though [it] was starting to rain a little bit, people are getting to know Powwow Park and the pond area," Gibbons said. "We've done a number of improvements to it over the past three years to make it more user friendly - especially for families or those with disabilities. It's become a really nice place to come and spend some time even if the weather isn't perfect."
These improvements, each headed by the 819th RED HORSE Squadron, included adding more picnic tables and benches, a fenced boundary, a new wheelchair-friendly pond entrance, and a few more cement fishing landings - all made to improve fishing experiences and visits to the park.
During National Kid's Fishing Day, children took home free fishing poles, tackle boxes and T-shirts just for registering. They were also eligible to sign up for several free giveaways that were handed out throughout the day. Lunch was also provided for the families.
Food and giveaways were plentiful, but the bites on the ends of the fishing poles were just as numerous.
"I caught [a fish] with a worm," said Kaleb Rayner, 6. "I tried to cast my rod out and then my dad helped me. Then I rushed over to get it and then I reeled it up and I had the fish. Then my dad had to take his shoes and socks off and get into the [pond] to get it though."
In the weeks preceding the event, the pond was stocked with hundreds of fish weighing between two and six pounds, some of which were tagged. The children who caught tagged fish won a free day-pass to the Electric City Water Park.
"The pond was stocked recently with 300 rainbow trout," Gibbons said. "We have it set up so at the end of the day, the kids with the largest fish [get] special prizes. We also have a special prize here from Col. [Angela] Stout for the kid who catches the most goldfish."
The children eligible for the prizes were separated into different age groups ranging from 3 to 15 years-old. They were able to weigh two fish each to be put into the heaviest fish contest.
"We [had] some great help from some other agencies," Gibbons said. "We [had] the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service here - two fishery biologists - doing the weighing and measuring for us. We also [had] representatives from the Cascade [County] Conservation District and the Natural Resources Conservation District help us set up."
Last year, 30 fish were weighed in by children and the largest fish caught was 6 pounds and 23 inches long. This year saw an increase in both numbers with 36 fish weighed with the largest fish weighing in at 7 pounds and 25 inches long.
Gibbons said the event turned out to be a success for the agencies involved and the families who attended.
"Overall, turnout was fantastic this year and everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun," he said. "It's a special event. We got kids and families out to the pond and maybe introduced them to something they may have never done before."