It was about 66 years ago that the West End Sportsmen’s Club and the Forks Jr. Chamber of Commerce sponsored the first Kids Fishing Day activity. Back then it was a derby and held at Mill Creek with all the measuring and hot cocoa activities happening at the Club’s home on Sportsmen Club Rd.
Prizes usually included rods and reels, and other fishing-related items, as well as baseball goves and cash! and if I remember correctly it was usually cold, wet and muddy! But, that didn’t stop the fishing faithful and usually around 100-150 kids showed up for the event.
In 1961 Charlene Leppell took first place in the ages six and under category, her fish measuring 10 7-16th inches was the winner; this year her granddaughter participated and brought home a whopper! Other winners in 1961 were Danny Wahlgren and Pete Rollins, the largest fish that year was caught by Wahlgren, it was 13-1/2 inches.
In 1967 the grand prize for the largest fish caught was a rod and reel and it was won by then 10-year-old Judy Riebe. Her fish measured a little over 11 inches. Winners of cash and prizes that year included Lori Windle, Patty Schulze, Ronnie Howell, Kenny Olson, Lance Whidden, George Schumack, Billy Klahn and my husband, then 12 years old, won $5!
So fast forward to 2019, the prizes are gone, the location has changed, the cocoa is still served, and WESC guys still help organize the event but WOW the fish are huge. Those 1960s kids would have forgone all the prizes and cash for one of those monsters that the kids caught last Sunday! This year an estimated 400 kids participated.
Thanks WESC, Pacific Salmon Coalition, Forks Elks, Forks Outfitters, West Waste, Bogachiel and Sol Duc Hatchery, and all others that continue to support this family-friendly activity. And a big Thank you to Edna Leppell for all the years she has donated her time to the event.
Happy Mother’s Day!