Saturday morning started off chilly but ended with perfect weather for this year’s trout fishing season at the Kid’s Trout Fishing Derby. The annual event was held at Stone Mill Spring Recreation Area, located in the Mark Twain National Forest adjacent to Fort Leonard Wood.
Enthusiastic anglers and their families showed up to enjoy the event, which was open to participants ages 15 and younger. Upon reaching the derby site, children were greeted by event organizers and volunteers who registered participants.
Participants lined the banks of the spring branch, focused on catching at least one of the more than 750 rainbow trout that had been stocked by the Missouri Department of Conservation prior to the event. Many of the young participants had never fished at Stone Mill Spring before, and some had a fishing pole in their hands for the first time.
Fishing started at 10 a.m. with the sound of a horn, followed by hundreds of baited hooks, cast by participants from the shore, hitting the water. It didn’t take long before the first few trout were hooked and landed.
Even with the brisk weather, turnout was strong, and almost half of the anglers caught at least one or more trout, catching a total of approximately 200 trout.
White tags were attached to 20 of the stocked trout the day prior to the event.
Three participants caught one of these specially marked fish and turned the tag in for their choice of one of the nearly two dozen prizes, which included a number of games, T-shirts and miscellaneous items necessary to stock a tackle box.
The derby was held by members of the U.S. Forest Service, the Missouri Department of Conservation; Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation and the Natural Resources Branch.
During the event, organizers expressed their appreciation for volunteers from the U.S. Air Force 368th Training Squadron and members of the Fort Leonard Wood chapter of Better Opportunities for Single Service Members.
Volunteers helped set up event facilities, cooked and distributed food to participants and, most importantly, assisted and taught participants to be successful in their fishing endeavors.