Mike Solley brought a lawn chair and planted himself by the water at Lake Rim Park, Saturday. As the temperatures settled into the low 70s just before 10 a.m., Solley held his daughter, Havyn, 3, on his lap and fished during the Armed Services YMCA 3rd Annual Family Fishing Derby.
Havyn was one of 137 youth, including little sister, Harmony, 2, who took part in the fishing derby, held to give Families quality time together and to raise funds for the organization.
“We thought it would be a great idea to take them out,” said Solley, whose wife Heather also took part in the derby.
“We’re going to catch a catfish — a big one,” beamed Havyn.
Indeed, the fish were biting.
With a total of 28, Hunter Garton, 3, caught the most fish, and received a trophy for his efforts.
Dillon Stephens, 6, got a trophy for the largest fish caught, which weighed 5 pounds.
The event’s $10 registration fee included a rod, bait and T-shirt.
“This has been our best group as far as sportsmanship,” said Lynn Grates, Fort Bragg ASYMCA executive director.
Scott Bertacini and his son, Andrew, 4, were a part of that “best group.”
“I wanted to get him learning about this type of stuff,” Bertacini said.
But, Andrew refused to be coddled. After Bertacini baited the first few hooks, the independent boy with a laser focus gave his father instructions. — “I want to do it by myself,” he said.
What did Andrew like most about the derby?
“Drinking water and catching fish. It was fun when we caught the first fish,” he explained.
For Kira Arauz, 17, an ASYMCA volunteer, the annual fishing derby provides an opportunity to be civic-minded.
“It’s fun to help other people. It’s nice to help give back,” she said.
This year’s fishing derby was a first for new volunteer Katie Sualog and husband, Scott.
“This is our date day. I told him, “You’re coming to volunteer with me,’” she said she told him. “I think he got excited when I told him it was a fishing derby.”
Instead of fishing though, Scott spent the morning weighing fish at one of the stations set up around the park.
After Dillon received his trophy for the largest catch of the day, his dad, Michael, summed up what the day meant to the Family.
“I loved it. It was awesome. It was great. The kids had fun. Everybody had fun,” he said.
Fort Bragg ASYMCA, is located in Building 2-2411, Rodney Trail, off Woodruff Street. For more information about its programs or services, visit www.braggasymca.org or call 436-0500.