2018-06-28 / Outdoors

Kids fishing offers a pleasant day for young anglers


ELLIANNA AND Chace Baumann, ages 7 and 4, are proud of their bluegill stringer. They are the children of Doug and Emily Baumann of Grand Traverse County. ELLIANNA AND Chace Baumann, ages 7 and 4, are proud of their bluegill stringer. They are the children of Doug and Emily Baumann of Grand Traverse County. Kids Fishing Day broke with overcast skies and rain, but as it has done for 14 straight years ended on a bright note.

The event, sponsored by a number of organizations, governments and local businesses, has never been declared a rain-out, but the fair-weather fun faced a challenge on Sunday.

“I didn’t get to sleep until 2 in the morning,” said Kids Fishing Day chair Pete Taylor, who has been the only person to hold the seat. “We’ve had several of these that have started out like this, but by the time the action started the weather was OK.”

Added his cohort, Hugh Farber, who was also signing in young fishers and their families at a booth near the parking lot, “It’s a lovely day, not too hot, not too cold.”


CUB SCOUTS, from left, Easton West, Henry Shatto and Oliver Wilson are all smiles at Kids Fishing Day. The members of Pack 131, which meets at Keswick United Methodist Church in Bingham Township, and Scout leaders put up a small tent along the bank and made a day of it. CUB SCOUTS, from left, Easton West, Henry Shatto and Oliver Wilson are all smiles at Kids Fishing Day. The members of Pack 131, which meets at Keswick United Methodist Church in Bingham Township, and Scout leaders put up a small tent along the bank and made a day of it. That combination — cloudy sky, moderate temperatures — seemed just right for the thousands of adult bluegills that the Kids Fishing Day Committee arranged to have planted in the front pond at Veronica Valley County Park in Bingham Township.

“One, two, three ... seven,” said Max Spurgeon, 5, in counting out loud to tally his catch.

“Are you done fishing?” Spurgeon, the greatgrandson of Taylor, was asked.

“I still have a worm,” he replied smartly, pointing to a remnant of his bait.

Spurgeon’s catch was the norm. While other events aimed to whet the appetites of young people for fishing rely on planted trout, the bluegill planted at Veronica Valley seemed to bring just as many smiles — or more — to the faces of Kids Fishing Day participants.


GRANDMOTHER SHIRLEY Dunklow provides a fishing seat for her grandchild, Hanley Ball, 3, with Hanley’s mother, Chastidy Ball, to the left. GRANDMOTHER SHIRLEY Dunklow provides a fishing seat for her grandchild, Hanley Ball, 3, with Hanley’s mother, Chastidy Ball, to the left. Chastidy Ball was sitting next to her mother, Shirley Dunklow, who had Hanley Ball, 3, on her lap holding a fishing pole. Young Ball’s reaction time was a tad slower than the bluegill bite, but still he managed to hook one.

“Two years ago we were here,” said Chastidy. “It’s easier for kids her age to fish.”

Grace Soave of Traverse City traveled with her 4-year-old son, Wyatt, to the event, which also featured t-shirt painting and a collection of amphibians provided by south Lake Leelanau resident Jim Kacin.

DISPLAYS OF turtles, frogs and unusual-looking fish such as gar pike kept the attention of many young fishers. Bingham Township resident Jim Kacin brought most of the specimens, which were later released back to their homes.DISPLAYS OF turtles, frogs and unusual-looking fish such as gar pike kept the attention of many young fishers. Bingham Township resident Jim Kacin brought most of the specimens, which were later released back to their homes.
“We came last year. I work for the Grand Traverse Band, and the people there suggested it,” Soave said.

Indeed, the Grand Traverse Band is one of the many sponsors of the event, along with the county Parks and Recreation Committee, Lake Leelanau Lake Association, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Cedar Rod and Gun Club and the Leelanau Enterprise.

But many hands are needed. For instance, the Grant family of Camelot Construction grilled hot dogs and the worms were provided by Honor Collision Services, which is owned by Chris and Heather Hettinger.

She was at the event, in uniform. Hettinger is district fish biologist for the MDNR.

HUGH FARBER, left, and Pete Taylor manned the front table at Kids Fishing Day, handing out name tags and offering instruction for first-time participants.HUGH FARBER, left, and Pete Taylor manned the front table at Kids Fishing Day, handing out name tags and offering instruction for first-time participants.
The committee bought 3,500 hybrid bluegills that were planted in the pond, but the actual number provided by the hatchery was between 3,600 and 3,800.

“Those are freebies,” Hettinger explained of the extras, compliments of the hatchery.

Hybrid bluegills are known to be a little hardier and better able to survive winters. Most are males. And contrary to popular thought, hybrid bluegills can reproduce, though they are not prolific spawners.

“They will breed, so that’s not a problem,” Hettinger said.

Though no bass were planted this year, they have been added to the pond in previous years. That morning Dave Barrons, a member of the county park commission, observed two large-mouths feeding.

“We saw two big bass surface fishing earlier this morning. I’m going to say one was 18 inches,” Barrons said.

Taylor appreciated having so many people in uniform at the event. Also attending were state conservation officers, paramedics from the Suttons Bay- Bingham Emergency Services, county water safety deputies and county Sheriff Mike Borkovich.

“It’s a big deal having these people here. (Hettinger) has gotten the DNR more involved in this day. Law enforcement is here. It’s crucial. It’s the kind of support you need to pull something like this off,” Taylor said.

As for the type of support needed to hold 14 kids fishing days without a rain-out, Taylor said he can only hope that it continues.

“I hope I can say that for a bunch more years,” he said.

- by Alan Campbell

Return to top