Mia Lenger caught the biggest fish of the day at 8.25”

By: Ernie Wren
The Ashland Optimist Club held its 22nd Annual Fishing Clinic on Saturday, June 22nd at Ashland City Park with 24 participants learning how to fish and spending quality time with family and friends. Plenty of fish were caught, along with a few turtles as well.

Luke Hall caught 11 fish, earning a prize for the most catches of the day

In 2002, when I was president of the Optimist Club, I promoted bringing back the fishing derby/clinic as it had been done in years past. We partnered with the Missouri Department of Conservation and staff member Brian Canaday to get it going. The event has since become an annual tradition.

Little Will Petry shows off his catch. Photo courtesy of Rich Ward.

While the local Optimist Club provides the volunteers and prizes, the Department of Conservation provides the fishing poles, worms, and fishing instruction.

Brady and Brantly Decker. Photo courtesy of Randy Decker.

Staff members at the Department have helped clean up and stock the city pond at several points, which provides the community with a good fishing hole.

Fox Graf caught nine fish during derby, taking 2nd place

Many of the clinics offered for free by the agency include Basic Tackle, Equipment, Fish Handling and more. You can find out details and sign up for classes at https://mdc.mo.gov/fishing/discover-nature-fishing.

Luke Hall and Keke Hill bring their fish to derby organizers to be counted and measured

According to the department’s website, fish are important to Missouri for the following reasons:

• In Missouri, fishing is a more than $400 million industry, including tackle, permits, bait, guides, boats, boat rentals, food, lodging, and transportation. It is an activity that draws many non-fishers into the outdoors, too!
• Fish play important roles in the food chain. Plants or aquatic invertebrates are eaten by small fish, which are in turn eaten by bigger ones. Many species — raccoons, herons, snakes, and people — eat fish.
• Fish serve as hosts for larval freshwater mollusks. Without their temporary attachment to the fish, the mollusks could not live.
• Aquarium keeping is a popular hobby and a multibillion-dollar global industry. In Missouri, anyone with a fishing permit can possess native nongame species in an aquarium, if they are collected according to the rules outlined in the Wildlife Code of Missouri.

In addition to the Fishing Clinic, the Ashland Optimist Club provides a diverse selection of activities throughout Southern Boone as it owns and operates the community swim pool, helps host the annual Cattlemen’s Day Rodeo in August, and organizes programs such as youth sports, essay/oratorical contests, Respect for Law, and much more.

The club is inclusive and open to the public for membership consideration. If you or a family member are interested in becoming a “Friend of Youth”, you can email Ernie Wren, Membership Chair, at erniewren@gmail.com.