— By BRIAN SMITH
Bonding time for some. A competition for others. A fun time for all.
More than 250 kids, a record amount for the event, came out for the annual KidFish event Saturday at Holland Lake Pond. The event was sponsored by Weatherford Parks and Recreation, Jerry’s Chevrolet and the KidFish Foundation. Anglers came from as far as Haslet and Little Elm to take part in the event.
Main Street and Special Events Coordinator Kim Thieme said people came to sign up until about 11:30 a.m. for the event, which ended at noon. She said publicizing at the nearby Blastball games may have had an impact, as the children and parents came over before and after their games.
“This is easily double the crowd we’ve had since I’ve been here and we couldn’t be happier,” Thieme said.
While all equipment was available on a first come, first served basis, many participants brought their own, including coolers to keep their bait at the proper temperature.
People came to the event an hour before it began to pick out their favorite fishing spot. Joe Townsen of Fort Worth, came to help his niece, Tammy, fish.
“This little lady loves to fish and I don’t get to spend enough time with her, so I came out to give her parents a break,” Townsen said.
Tammy, 6, said she wanted to pull “a shark” out of the pond but said she would settle for a “little fish.”
There were no little fish in the pond, as Shawn Ashcroft with KidFish would attest, having personally stocked the pond Friday with 350 pounds of channel catfish, each weighing between two and 16 pounds. Dillon Sager, 10, of Haslet, pulled the first fish out of the pond just minutes after the event started, coming through with a healthy 19-inch fish.
Bass and perch were also inside the pond, as David Munroe, 8, of North Richland Hills found out when he pulled out a small perch from the water.
“What’s a perch?” he asked his grandfather, Joe, who lives in Weatherford, “Can you even eat these things?” Joe Munroe said David and his little brother Dalton, 6, were in a friendly competition to see who could catch the biggest fish. The winner received a trip to McDonald’s with Joe.
“It really doesn’t matter who wins,” Munroe said with a sigh. “As long as we can spend some time together.”
Before the event, Ashcroft presented KidFish College to find out what the kids knew about fishing and to set the ground rules. Top finishers as far as weight and length in each of three age divisions qualified for the State tournament in June.
“We just like to make sure the kids and everyone has a good time,” Ashcroft said.
Emily and Katie Watson, of Little Elm, heard about the event through Emily’s mom, who lives in town. The pair thought it would be a good idea to come out and have a chance to bond.
“I just want to catch a fish and spend some time with my mom,” Katie Watson said. “We can go home then.”
Catching a fish was even less of a concern for Shannon Hartzel Sr. and Jr. of Weatherford who also wanted to spend some quality time together.
“I’m having fun with him and that’s really all that matters,” the senior Hartzel said.