Family, fishing and nice springlike weather go together like Texas and football do on this Super Bowl weekend.
So strong is that treasured combination of family, fishing, and good weather that when the Denison Parks and Recreation Department holds its 16th annual Family Fellowship Trout Derby at Waterloo Lake Park Pond this weekend, a record crowd is anticipated.
In fact, by the time you actually read this, it may be too late to get a spot in the Saturday, Feb. 1 event that begins at 9 a.m.
“Due to the high volume of preregistered participants, event day registration may be limited to ensure a positive and safe experience of fishing,” said Andrew Means, recreation manager for the Denison Parks and Recreation Department. “This event was created to provide families an opportunity to fish together and compete against each other all at the same time, and as you can tell, it’s a very popular event here in our city.”
While it remains to be seen if Denison Parks and Rec workers have to actually stop the event’s registration process, assuming that there are open spots left today and tomorrow morning, the event is open to all ages. Registration costs are $7 for adult residents, $10 for non-resident adults. For youth residents, the cost is $5 while it increases to $7 for non-resident youth.
Means notes that there will be two age divisions for Saturday’s competition, one for ages 16 and under and the other for ages 17 and older.
No matter which division you find yourself fishing in, there is a chance to carry home some great prizes according to Means.
“There will be some unique trout sculptures that will be awarded to the biggest trout caught, the smallest trout caught and the heaviest stringer of trout caught in both age divisions,” he said.
Means said that Inland Fisheries personnel with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will also be conducting a casting contest for both age groups, a contest in which additional awards will be given out.
In addition to the various competition awards, Means noted that several door prizes will be awarded too. And for those who participate in the derby and hang around to the end, a hot dog lunch will be provided too.
If that’s not enough incentive, there’s even more to lure in the anticipated big crowd on Saturday.
“There will also be prizes awarded for (some of) the golden trout caught during the event,” said Means.
According to the D-Town Parks and Rec man, approximately 25 golden trout will be stocked by TPWD personnel. The TPWD crew will also stock plenty of catchable size rainbow trout too.
“Approximately 1,600 trout will be stocked in the park’s pond prior to the event,” said Means. “While the sizes of the stocked trout will vary, on average, most rainbows will weigh about half a pound.”
While the City of Denison has provided other fishing derbies like this for many years, the Family Fellowship Trout Derby is an annual “can’t miss” event for many D-Town families.
“The City enjoys providing unique and fun activities for our community,” said Means. “This event falls right into that category and ANYONE can fish in it.”
Like many who will be there on Saturday morning, Means — a lifelong Denison resident himself — has fond memories of this event in years gone by.
“I remember growing up and taking part in these derbies and how much fun it was,” he said. “It promotes the great outdoors and provides a competitive and social element as well. Now, I am fortunate enough to be a part of the City of Denison and to help provide others with the same experience that I experienced years ago.”
About the only drawback to the annual February family fishing event is an occasional bout with wintertime weather, something that will apparently be absent this weekend.
“February weather is very unpredictable and this event has seen all kinds of weather conditions,” said Means. “Just a few years ago, our staff and volunteers were breaking ice on the pond the morning of the event.
“Unfortunately, there have even been a few events over the years that have had to be postponed or even canceled, mainly due to ice or freezing rain,” he added.
“This year, however, it looks to be more like a spring day with weather forecasts around 65 degrees.”
Even though there are some seasoned anglers who enjoy the various Denison trout derbies, anyone can catch these wintertime put-and-take rainbow trout.
“You don’t have to be a pro to fish this event,” said Means. “If you can bait a hook and make a cast, then you can catch a trout.”
Means noted that some of the more popular baits used for trout at the Waterloo Lake Park Pond include corn, PowerBait Eggs, salmon eggs and even small marshmallows.
While there is a competitive element to these wintertime fishing derbies in D-Town, that’s all low key according to Means since the primary focus is fishing success and angling fun for all who attend.
That’s good advice for parents and older youth to remember, even if there are a few fishing trophies on the line.
“Parents may assist their kids while fishing, but we encourage the parents to let the kids experience the catch (themselves),” said Means.
One final thing according to Means is for participants to remember that Waterloo Lake and the Park Pond are all designated Community Fishing Lakes. As such, all state and local fishing regulations — including license requirements —do apply.
For full license requirements, Community Lake rules, and TPWD fishing regulations, please visit www.tpwd.texas.gov.
For more information on the Family Fellowship Trout Derby itself, please visit either www.CityofDenison.com or https://denison.recdesk.com. You may also call 903-465-2720, Ext. 2034 during business hours today.