A little rain and some soggy pizza didn't stop local children from enjoying an evening of fishing on Friday at Swift Ponds.
Organized by Kiwanis member Ryan Gloden, the fishing derby attracted about 100 children to the ponds located at the southeast corner of Interstate 25 and Kechter Road (Larimer County Road 36). Children learned fishing etiquette and techniques from Kiwanis volunteers and the Poudre Fire Authority.
The annual event is a result of the vision of another Kiwanis member, Larry Howell, who started the derby 14 years ago.
"It's fishing instead of going out and getting into trouble or getting into things they shouldn't be getting into," Howell said. "I have a belief that this is good, healthy stuff, and we need more of this kind of thing."
The young fishers included both the experienced and inexperienced. Fort Collins natives Brian and Michael Cooklin, age 10 and 11 respectively, returned to the derby for a second year after enjoying their experience last year.
"I caught a 5.5-pound bass," Brian said of his biggest catch last year. "I never fish in that spot anymore because I'm scared I'm going to catch another one, and I don't want to catch another one because it's not fun to reel in."
Bayleigh Bush, 11, from Fort Collins, was a first-time angler and caught two fish within the first half-hour. She said she enjoys fishing but doesn't like the worms.
A young but experienced fisher, Riley Chadwick, 7, from Fort Collins, said she goes fishing every summer, and her favorite part is reeling in the fish.
The Colorado Division of Wildlife provided fishing poles and stocked the ponds with fish, and Jax Outdoor Gear provided tackle boxes. The children were able to keep the boxes and poles at the end of the derby. Pudge Bros. Pizza provided 40 discounted pizzas, and Colorado Youth Outdoors provided the land for use.