Dozens of children and their parents, friends and family members made the most of Friday morning and fished in the creek at PARK in Ronan in the Arnie Armstrong Memorial, kicking off Ronan Pioneer Days festivities.
Ron Merwin, of the VFW in Ronan, said that the creek and two pools, reserved for children ages 7 and younger, were stocked with nearly 400 Rainbow Trout this year, made possible by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
“They receive the fish from the Creston U.S. hatchery,” Merwin said, adding that the contribution is what “makes the event happen.”
Ranging from 12 to 18 inches in length, any fish not caught in the tanks are put into the waterway, Merwin said.
Those participating in the derby have the options to either keep the fish or simply throw the catch back into the water.
Merwin estimated that about 130 children took part in the event, which he said has grown each year since its inception.
Assisting the VFW in organizing the event each year is the Women’s Auxiliary, which Merwin said put together prizes and goodie bags for the children, as well as get them registered for the day.
The derby isn’t just for kids, Merwin said.
Adults get excited for the opportunity to bond with their children, showing them the ropes of how to hook, line and sink their bait and bobbers.
Catching several fish from one of the tanks was Riley Harris, 5, with the help of her mom, Jennifer.
Reeling in the catch like a pro, Jennifer said Riley has “been doing this for a while.”
As the team reeled in the fish, Riley shrieked with excitement, exclaiming how slimy the trout was once she got a hold of it.
Attending the fishing derby each year, Jennifer said that the Charlo-based family fishes everywhere, and it’s something her daughter enjoys. “She loves it.”
Riley’s big brother Colby also joined in on the fun, Jennifer said.