Wallace Lake Fishing Derby, 2018

BEREA, OH – The annual tradition of attending the spring Cleveland Metroparks Fishing Derby at Wallace Lake was continued in 2018.  I also continued my tradition of not catching fish.  Remember last year?, you can read that here.  For whatever reason, I do poorly at the organized events (minus last year’s epic N. R. Corn Festival Derby) helping the kids get on the fish.

Bryce with his new friend Heidi, and the tiny toad they caught

No matter how the fishing goes, the event is always a lot of fun.  I nearly always find myself fishing around like minded folks that just want to see their kids have fun and hopefully make a memorable catch.  While this ends up being a reality for many, I find myself making great memories even if it doesn’t involve a catch(es).  This year was no exception, the family next to us having similar poor fishing results, but enjoying all of our kids playing and exploring the woods together.  I’m confident none of the kids will remember the lack of fish, but will remember playing tag, wagon rides, finding critters like baby toads, and making new friends.

Cleveland Metroparks staff just prior to the awards

For those fortunate enough to find the fish, and there were plenty that did, the awards presentation is enjoyable to watch.  Seeing those proud parents… and those kids walking up with their self-esteem and confidence boosted is fantastic.  There are tons of well deserved ‘high-fives’ and the vibe is always upbeat and exciting.

That’s a lot of fishing swag waiting to be won!

As you can see from the above photo, many young anglers leave with some nice new gear in tow.  As an adult, I view catching the fish itself is the reward, but imagine catching fish AND getting a reward for it.  Sign me up for that!  No wonder why all of the kids are so excited and the events are so well attended.

Bryce always loves the education ‘stations’

Jen talking about invasive species with Bryce

The Cleveland Metroparks always do a great job of having some type of interactive education.  From year to year it varies on what exactly it might be, but it is always present.  I can speak for not only my children, but the all of the ones I observe, that they love interacting with the staff and volunteers.  It is also safe to say that they are having fun while not realizing they are learning.  This speaks volumes about the people providing the education and how they present it – as it so well received.  I always learn something new myself.

Bryce ‘horsing around’ with a ranger

So another year has gone by and my fishing results for the kids was the same.  But just like last year, we had the same great overall experience.  If I can make a case for how much fun you will have even if you don’t catch fish – just imagine how awesome it is if you do!  There’s really no risk of having a bad time either way.  As always, I want to say a huge thank you to Mike Durkalec, Aquatic Biologist, and all of the other staff (and volunteers) from the Cleveland Metroparks… not just for this event, but for all of the wonderful resources they maintain for us in NE Ohio.

Cleveland Metroparks, Children’s Fishing Derby

By random circumstance, I finally had a few moments to catch up on the Cleveland Metroparks fishing blog.  I was surprised to learn that right as I was reading, the annual Children’s Fishing Derby had just started at Wallace Lake in Berea that very morning.  While we were already an hour into the event, I hustled my son out the door.

Bryce and I are no strangers to these events as we have done several, but it was admittedly different to arrive late.  Most of the better, easier places to fish were taken, which left us casting under a tree with ominous branches that displayed numerous trophies of tackle they had claimed.  We didn’t let it discourage us, and went about our fishing.  About a half hour in, Bryce reeled in a small Bluegill.  After the catch, I noticed Bryce was more pre-occupied with the carnival type atmosphere of the registration area and decided to quit fishing.

CWF05222016bWith things like the above ‘museum on wheels’ with huge animal graphics on the sides, I could understand why Bryce wanted to explore more of the area away from the water.  It’s funny how sometimes we can learn from our children.  I was consumed with getting him catching fish and making up for lost time from being late, only to have him at peace and happy finding enjoyment in other activities besides catching fish.  It rubbed off on dad, and I was having fun too.

CWF05222016cIn the above photo, Jessica was very encouraging by giving out ‘high-fives’ for correctly identifying the fish species in the dioramas.  Bryce also helped us to discover the plexiglass worked as an effective sneeze-guard, who knew?!

CWF05222016gThe always popular aquarium with some of the day’s catches draws my son to it like tweens to a Justin Bieber concert.  Fortunately, most everyone was fishing which allowed him to dominate the front row view.  I admittedly always enjoy the aquarium myself, which seems to be a nice fixture to look forward to at the events.  I do wish we would have been able to contribute a catch to it.

CWF05222016eBryce always wants to be the intellectually superior person when it comes to fish knowledge with his peers.  Cleveland Metroparks Aquatic Biologist Mike Durkalec, pictured above, is always kind enough to share some knowledge.  Some people have a gift with teaching, and Mike has it.

05222016fAfter a conversation with this young lady’s dad, I learned she had caught a nearly microscopic fish in a small plastic bucket.  I almost went blind trying to spot it, but it was there.  Too bad for her that the Smallest Fish Award required being caught on hook and line, or she would have won easily.  I’m sure she was fine without the award, as anyone rocking “Fish Ohio” cheek art knows who is boss.  Bryce and I didn’t find the tattoos, not sure if I could have pulled off the look.

I apologize that this post doesn’t have any awesome fish pictures in it, but most assuredly I can tell you many great fish were caught.  Click here to see some of the catches.  The way the day turned out, Bryce and I simply weren’t by the water to make our own catches or see neat catches being made around us.  We had fun with the activities pictured above, conversations, great hot dogs and the casting station.  For those that have never gone to one of these events, I want to note that loaner fishing rods were offered to those that needed them and free bait.  It also goes without saying that there are always numerous volunteers and staff offering free instruction.

A big thank you to the Cleveland Metroparks for another wonderfully fun family event!