Free Fishing = Family Fun

Ready to Fish
Getting ready to fish at the Gone Fish’n Fishing Derby in Storm Lake, Iowa.

“Here fishy, fishy!” Kids of all ages were uttering these words on Sunday, June 7, 2015 at a fishing derby hosted by Gone Fish’n. This free event was held at Frank Starr Park in Storm Lake, Iowa for kids ages 3 to 13 in conjunction with Iowa’s Free Fishing Weekend. The event advertised free food, bait, prizes, and free fishing poles for the first 65 kids. While this was the first year Gone Fish’n hosted such an event, I hope it becomes an annual family tradition for years to come.

My girls were super excited to go fishing. We gathered our sunscreen, fishing poles, and camera and set out on a great fishing adventure. Our family is full of novice fishers, so our load was light. Next time I would bring the following items: Lawn chairs, bug spray, and hand wipes. (Some people also brought buckets for seats or to carry home their catch of the day.) I was able to scrounge up an almost empty can of bug spray and a couple wet wipes in our car once we got there, but having them at the beginning of our expedition would have been handy!

Shore of Storm Lake
The shore of Storm Lake was packed with families excited to go fishing.

We arrived at the park shortly before 2 PM. The free fishing poles were gone, and the amount of families lining the shore already was amazing. Later, we found out that a whopping 97 free fishing poles were given away to excited children!

The girls signed in and were given a cup of wiggly worms. We found a spot along the shore and got busy untangling fishing lines and baiting hooks. We threw out our lines and intently watched the pink and white bobbers for any sign of movement. We watched, and watched, and watched. “This is no use,” sighed one of my girls. She reeled in the line to check for signs of life. The worm still dangled from the hook. With a determined mind, she threw out the line again and waited. And waited some more.

Watching Bobbers
Making memories while watching bobbers for signs of movement!

A little girl next to us caught a fish, and excitement mounted. We chatted and watched the boat traffic on the lake. A jet ski made waves nearby. A family of curious geese swam by to check out the excitement. Our bobbers stayed in one spot, with no signs of nibbles. After 30 minutes of unsuccessful fishing, tiny little ripples started to appear on the lake, and rain drops slowly began to fall on our heads. Slowly, the sprinkles picked up. It was raining!

Our fishing expedition was over. We packed up and loaded our gear in the car. Some followed suit, while other die-hard fishers weren’t bothered by a little rain. A crowd slowly gathered in the park’s shelter house where a group from Storm Lake’s Grace Lutheran Church had graciously prepared hot dogs, chips, bars, and drinks.

Time for Prizes
This tackle box was a big hit and is now full of all her jewelry!

Prizes were then given away to kids who caught fish and to those who came to give fishing a try. All kids in attendance got a prize of some sort, ranging from lures, fishing nets, and tackle boxes. We went home with a mermaid tackle box, a big bag of bobbers, and fish coloring sheets. The girls loved their prizes and are even more excited to go on another fishing adventure! Despite the rain, Gone Fish’n hosted a great event that led to a lot of Small Town Iowa Fun!

You don’t have to wait for Gone Fish’n to host an event to get in on the fishing fun. The lake in Storm Lake is always ready for anglers of all ages. So, get your pole and tackle and plan an adventure of your own!

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