SOUTH FORK— A warm summer day dawned on Wolf Creek Pass as participants in this year’s South Fork Fishing Derby made their way to Tucker Ponds. Well over 100 people flocked to the area just outside of South Fork with their children in tow to take part in this year’s event. Representatives from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) were present to greet them and get the day started with four educational courses for the young participants to take before heading out on the lake to fish.
The South Fork Visitor Center has partnered with CPW over the course of several years to offer the free clinic and to help educate Colorado’s youth in the rules and regulations for local fishing. Each course takes participants through the dos and don’ts of the state’s fishing regulations as well as teaches them useful techniques like how to properly cast a rod and reel and tie proper knots to make sure that their trophy catch doesn’t get away.
According to visitor center director Mark Teders, about 75 attendees were young enough to participate in the event. CPW staff and Teders spent a good portion of the morning setting up for the event as people arrived and then separated the children into groups of about 20. Each group was then taken to a different station where they learned the fundamentals of fishing, casting, CPW regulations and the different types of fish that can be found in Colorado waters.
CPW provides free poles for the participants at the end of each event, giving area youth a chance to own their own rod and reel. CPW also stocks the ponds specifically for the event to ensure that each participant can catch their legal limit before returning home. CPW stresses the fun and importance of the catch and release mentality, but are happy to see families take the day’s catch home.
Several local businesses in and around South Fork generously donate bait and other fishing supplies to make sure the day is enjoyed by all. This year Teders gave out raffle tickets to each of the participants for a chance to win a gift certificate provided by Doc’s Outdoor Sports. The San Luis Valley Rural Electric Cooperative donated 50 water bottles for the first 50 children that signed up Saturday morning. The town of South Fork donated food for lunch which was prepared by the Chapel of South Fork.
By the end of the day, everyone had had their fill of food, fun and fish. Plans for next year’s event are already underway.
Next up in South Fork will be the Third of July celebrations with a catfish fry, parade and much more.