Photo by Kelly White
Mia O'Brien, 5, of Palos Hills, fishes on Saturday afternoon at the Palos Hills Resource and Recreation Department's Fishing Derby at Pleasure Lake.
Mia O'Brien enjoys fishing with her mom and grandpa, whom she calls papa.
“It’s a lot of fun, and we can all do it together as a family,” said Mia, 5, of Palos Hills. “Mommy and papa are really good at fishing.”
She was happy to share her excitement for the sport with her parents and 3-year-old brother, Alex, on Saturday morning at the Palos Hills Resource and Recreation’s Fishing Derby.
The free event was held at Pleasure Lake Park, 10801 S. Roberts Road, Palos Hills, for children and teens ages 2 to 13.
“This fishing derby is unique because it is a smaller event than a lot of other fishing derbies and is held on at a great local fishing spot,” said Edward Jung, superintendent of the Palos Hills and Resource Department. “It is an event at no cost to the community that is meant to get kids outdoors and introduce them to fishing. Everyone has a great time.”
There were no official rules to the derby. Adults were able to help the children with baiting and casting as they learned how to fish, since many were fishing for the very first time. However, all the fish had to be caught solely by the child.
All participants were required to bring their own fishing poles. No fishing material or bait was provided by the resource and recreation department.
Catching the first fish of the day, a five-and-a-half-pound bluegill, was Mia.
“I’m so proud of myself, mommy,” Mia said as she lifted her fish from the water.
As the day continued on, the young fishermen caught many more fish, releasing them back into the water afterwards.
Another fellow young fisherman, Austin McGuire, 13, of Palos Hills, was happy to be spending the day during Father’s Day weekend with his grandfather, Patrick McGuire.
“I use to fish a lot when I was younger, and it is something I still really enjoy” Austin said.
The fishing derby was first held in 2008. It started as a way to promote the opening of the newest park in the city at the time, Glacier Park.
Prior to this year, the derby was last held in September of 2014. It was postponed the previous two years because the lake needed to be restocked, according to Sandy DeMoor, supervisor of Community Resources of the Palos Hills Resource and Recreation Department.
“After a two-year freeze on fishing at the lake due to a restocking of fish and allowing those fish to mature, we are very excited to reopen the lake for families to again enjoy the fun of fishing and experience the natural aspects of Pleasure Lake Park,” said Palos Hills Mayor Gerald Bennett
Now with 300 fish, the lake was more than ready for fishing this year. It was restocked by the department with bluegill and bullhead fish.
“There have even been a few bass caught in the lake just recently by local fishermen,” Jung said.
Participants in the derby were able to catch as many fish as they could in a four-hour time period. Every fish caught was to be measured and weighed by a member of the resource and recreation department.
“The kids love to get out with the adults and always have the biggest smiles on their faces when they catch a fish,” Jung said.