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After being cancelled like most other events during 2020 as a result of the pandemic, kids will once again be able to show off their catches at a decades-old fishing derby this weekend.

The Kiwanis kids fishing derby will kick off Saturday morning at Fiorito North Lake outside Ellensburg. The event is sponsored by the Ellensburg Noon Kiwanis, and will be split into categories based on age, with plenty of prizes for the kids who catch the biggest fish in their category.

Organizer and Kiwanis member Dale Defoor has been with the event since it began approximately 30 years ago, with the only break being during the pandemic. Originally, he said the event was held along local creeks, but it had to be relocated amidst river restoration projects that affected their original spots.

“We moved to Fiorito Lake about five or seven years ago,” he said.

The event is split into three age groups. Ages 5 and under, 6 to 10, and 11 to 14 will compete for prizes including a bicycle for each age group, fishing poles and equipment, as well as local bait products from Pautzke. Prizes will be awarded at noon. Defoor said no pre-registration is needed for the event.

“Just show up, and we’ll have a couple of people that will register them,” he said. “Then they go fish for three hours and hopefully they caught something.”

Since the event began, Defoor said the event has grown to host approximately 60 kids for year. He said the inspiration for the event was that it aligns with the Kiwanis values of families spending recreational time together at local outdoor spots.

“It’s kind of just a fun thing for us to do,” he said. “Kids love it.”

When all the kiddos converge on the lake this weekend, Defoor said there is no concern about overcrowding on the shores as they compete for prizes.

“The lake’s a quarter of a mile long,” he said. “They can certainly fish all around the lake, so there’s no problem with enough room. It’s also free fishing weekend, so adults can fish. They just can’t compete.”

Fiorito will receive its annual stocking of rainbow trout today, and although they aren’t stocking what they normally would in a given year, Defoor said it will still sweeten the pot for the children.

“They’re only putting 1,500 in, but it’s better than nothing,” he said. “If every kid catches one, we’ll be happy.”

Defoor said his favorite part of holding the event is seeing the expressions on children’s faces when they catch their first fish of the derby. After not being able to hold the event last year, he said this year’s derby is one step back toward normalcy.

“I think everybody is excited for it to happen again,” he said. “I’ve had a few people call and ask if we were going to have it. It’s always been something I enjoy doing.”

Reporting for the DR since March 2018. Lover of campfires, black labs and good vibes. Proud Humboldt State alum!

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