About 120 children showed up at Barney Schwartz Park for the ninth annual tournament
PASO ROBLES – About 120 youngsters showed up at Barney Schwartz Park for the ninth annual Fishing Derby on Saturday, April 9. The derby is organized by the Paso Robles Police Activities League (PAL), the Atascadero Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Nick Romano, the Black Brandt Group and the Avenales Sports Club.
Since 1994, the Paso Robles Police Department (PRPD) has been involved with PAL, a statewide nonprofit organization. After a two-year hiatus due to COVID, they have resumed work providing youth-oriented programs for the community.
The fishing tournament started early at 8 a.m. Saturday. PAL was able to provide almost 30 fishing rods and tackle boxes for those who did not have their own equipment. It was a good sign for Tony Ruiz, commissioner of the Police Activities League. According to Ruiz, one of PAL’s goals is to get kids and their families outdoors — and eventually discover a new hobby.
Get through this together, Paso Robles
The day before the derby, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife fills the pond with trout. The Atascadero Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation and the PRPD Volunteer Community Patrol were on hand to help anyone new to fishing. Anglers were asked to catch and release or keep their catch for the day.
At the end of the day, around noon, a lunch was offered to all participating children, as well as raffle prizes.
Alexis, an 8-year-old experienced angler, won the first rod in the draw.
“I won one [fishing pole] before, but you can never have too much,” she said.
Ruiz notes that one of the reasons the PRPD chooses fishing as an activity is to teach children patience.
Alexis, who also looks forward to showing cattle in 4-H, quickly recognized that patience is an important part of fishing.
“I try to lay on my jacket and wait — let my bobber do it,” she said.
Although Alexis didn’t catch any fish that day, she said she had a great time and her favorite part of the day was “to sit and watch the ducks because they go everywhere”.
The most popular program offered by the Paso Robles PAL Chapter is the Jr. Giants Baseball League. The Giants League is a non-competitive league that teaches kids the basics of baseball and softball as well as the life lessons that come with playing. Unfortunately, due to COVID, the local PAL chapter had to press pause on activities . But, they look forward to returning the Giants League in person this year, with registrations starting this week.