Lake Poway Youth Fishing Derby is Saturday
By Michael Bower
Mike Long and Capt. Ron Baker have been organizing the Lake Poway Youth Fishing Derby for all 18 years of its existence. And there has always been one goal in mind: Every kid leaves the lake with a smile and a prize.
“That is what it is all about,” said Long, who often spent entire summers fishing Lake Poway when he was a youngster. “Giving back is so much fun because you see the faces and how excited the kids are. We try to make sure everybody walks away with something.”
Long, 47, and Baker, 68, are set for another fun-filled day at the lake. The 18th annual Lake Poway Youth Fishing Derby starts at 6 a.m. on Saturday and will continue until noon. That’s when all participating children and their families will receive a free barbecue. Prizes and raffles begin at 1 p.m. The event usually draws around 400 to 600 people.
“Everything is free for these kids and they all enjoy that part of it, because not much is free in this world anymore,” said Long, a 1984 Poway High graduate currently residing in Ramona. “We have all kinds of great prizes. We will usually raffle for about two hours.”
For those looking for an extra bit of advice on how to win the derby, Long puts on a free fishing seminar on Friday at the lake. Dinner is served at 4 p.m. and then Long, who holds the Lake Poway record for largest bass ever caught (18-pounds, 1-ounce), will talk fishing and help kids setup their rods.
Overnight camping on Friday night is also available for $15 per family. This will be the fourth year the event is offering a campout, which has been a huge success when the weather cooperates.
“Last year, it was really windy at night, but it was beautiful in the afternoon during the seminar,” Long said. “It was so great to walk up and see all the people in the park getting gear ready for the next day, seeing people enjoy what you have for so long. We are just paying it all forward. Hopefully, someone else is watching and will pay it forward after us.”
Baker, who is well known for his time as the host of Fish Talk Radio and the several derbies he has put on around the state, believes the Lake Poway Fishing Derby is the longest running derby for kids in California. The Lakeside resident loves to see the family atmosphere come alive each year at the derby.
“These parents don’t just drop the kids off and leave,” he said. “The parents are all involved. They bring the kids out for a wonderful day at the lake and a lot of times there will be grandparents out there, too.”
Baker has taught thousands of kids how to fish over the years. He has an entire website devoted to children and fishing (takekidsfishing.net).
“It is all for the kids,” Baker said. “It is all about that smile on every kid’s face.”
Saturday should bring plenty of those big smiles … and maybe some big fish.
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