Fly fishing rod

New derby attraction aims to get kids fishing

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The kids lined up Saturday on day two of the Owen Sound Salmon Spectacular Fishing Tournament to fish a tank full of rainbow trout under the marquee.

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The attraction, which makes its final derby appearance this year on Sunday, Children’s Day, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., is a fun new thing for kids to do. Most of the 500 rainbows from fish farms in the tank are small, with a few big throws. Catch a big one and you win a prize.

Several junior anglers were allowed into the pond at once and given a few minutes to try their luck. They would stand with a parent or two around the 15 by 15 foot tank. Holding their rods which had no reels, with lines baited using a fly or plastic bait, the children gazed out into the black water, where an occasional fin could be seen. break the surface.

When a fish was lit, an attendant tried to catch it, sending water spray, the silver belly of the rainbow flashing, and onlookers cheering. Sometimes the fish would run away and not everyone would catch something, but that’s fishing.

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Anyone who catches a fish can take it home, clean it, and put it in a bag before leaving. Clara Enamorado, six, from London, was one of the lucky anglers. She posed for a photo with her father and her attendant Alec Medemblik who caught the fish then helped Clara hold it for the photo.

Clara’s fisherman father, Gabe, said he asked an attendant if there was anything else for bait because the fish weren’t taking Clara’s line. “He’s like, ‘Oh, I’ve got one guaranteed. Let me go get him. And within seconds he’s got him in the water and taking a bite,’ said Gabe, who lives in London and is staying in Allenford with his family.”It’s a great community event and I’m looking forward to it next year,” Enamorado said.

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Michael Sklad, owner and operator of Fishing Friendzy's fishing tank, fills with 500 rainbow trout for kids to catch during the Owen Sound Salmon Spectacular Fishing Derby on Saturday, August 27, 2022 in Owen Sound, Ont.  (Scott Dunn/The Sun Times/Postmedia Network)
Michael Sklad, owner and operator of Fishing Friendzy’s fishing tank, fills with 500 rainbow trout for kids to catch during the Owen Sound Salmon Spectacular Fishing Derby on Saturday, August 27, 2022 in Owen Sound, Ont. (Scott Dunn/The Sun Times/Postmedia Network)

The attraction is the creation of Michael Sklad, of Wingham. He brings the Fishing Friendzy tank to fairs, festivals, sports and boat shows. His company runs youth fishing leagues in Orangeville, Caledon, Hamilton and he is trying to set them up in Owen Sound, Barrie and London next year.

Children aged 6 to 13 fish from shore, often in conservation areas, practice catch-and-release fishing and award different points for each catch, depending on the species. They go out two hours a week for four weeks. Each child receives a personalized jersey, fishing equipment and trophies are awarded at the end of the league.

It is an educational experience, with older children serving as mentors, and they are taught the ethics of fishing, he said. They keep statistics on what is caught. At events in the Greater Toronto Area, nine out of 10 kids have never held a fishing rod, let alone caught a fish, Sklad said.

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Derby co-chairman John Ford said of the children’s fishing attraction: “It costs them nothing to fish, as we try to promote fishing for children. And that’s a really good way to do it. . . We are pleased. We think it will happen again. »

There was a new leader in the salmon category on Saturday, the second day of the derby. By mid-afternoon, it was Joel Benninger of Hanover with his 24.38-pound (10.98-kilogram) Chinook salmon.

Jon Fowles of Moorefield had the derby leading brown trout weighing in at 16.32 pounds. (7.35kg); Brett Stewart of Owen Sound caught the top lake trout weighing 17.01 pounds. (7.66kg); and Owen Sound’s Doug Webb caught the top rainbow at 11.70 pounds (5.27 kg).

Weigh stations close at 10 p.m. every night until the Derby closes on Sunday, September 4 at noon. On the first day of the derby, 379 fish were entered. For full details of the derby standings and daily list of entertainment and events, visit the Sydenham Sportsmen’s Association Facebook page at

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