Imagine going fishing and returning home with a 55-inch flat-screen TV.
That’s what happened to Makayla Pope Sept. 28 at the Fremont Area Law Enforcement Children’s Fishing Tournament at Fremont’s Wolf River Crossings Park.
Along with having a chance to win the TV and other raffle prizes, the 115 participants ages 3-13 also caught 63 fish in the park’s lagoon. The Waupaca County Sheriff’s Department, Fremont Police Department and state Department of Natural Resources teamed up to sponsor the 28th annual event.
This year’s tournament drew 115 anglers, according to Fremont Police Chief Gene Goode, who helped organize the tournament with local DNR conservation warden Jeff Knorr.
“We have over 100 children registered,” Goode said. “It’s always been held here. It was started 28 years ago by a Fremont patrol officer, Joe Jaworski. He approached the chief of police at that time, Jack Rasmussen, and seeing Fremont’s a fishing community, they decided to establish a relationship with the kids in the community.
“I can remember helping them out way back when,” he added. “Every kid back then got a fishing pole and a six-pack of soda.”
Tournament organizers rely on the community for donations and prizes.
“We have solicited donations from businesses in the community,” Goode said. “We started a raffle ticket system the last three years which pretty much pays for the event.”
Some of the kids fished on their own, but others had plenty of help from family members. Anglers were divided by age into Class A (ages 10-13), Class B (ages 7-9) and Class C (ages 3-6).
Anglers registered their catches with Knorr, who measured each fish. Goode then entered the length of each fish into a computer and tallied up the winning total lengths.
Most of the fish were small bluegill, sunfish and perch, but Brady Lenz registered an 11 1/2-inch-long largemouth bass and ended up taking home a trophy for the largest fish, as well as another trophy for placing second overall in Class B.
Trophy winners for placing first, second or third in each class were Class A: Mike Hickey (first), Dakota Lenz (second) and Tyler Wetzel (third); Class B: Brett Krause (first), Brady Lenz (second) and Jack Hoover (third); and Class C: Hunter Merten (first), Samantha St. Louis (second) and Samantha Bailey (third).
“Believe it or not, the kids can catch over 100 fish every year,” Goode said. “They’re mainly panfish, but it’s every fish in the Wolf River system.”