June 1 was a good day. I took my little girl and a friend to the fishing derby hosted by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife at McHaley Pond. They hold it every year on the state free fishing day, and they do a great job. The pond had just been stocked with 1,000 trout and 150 “trophies.” Trophies are greater than 14 inches in length and can be over 20 inches, so anticipation was high, and chances of catching some fish were good.

Fish and Game did a good job hosting the event. They had lots of folks around to answer questions and help novices catch a fish or two. Kids could try out a fly fishing station, paint a fish or look at some frogs.

They had an exhibit of all the animals found at the pond, which was neat, and they provided hot dogs and hamburgers at lunchtime.

They divided the kids into under 6 years old and 6 and above. We had until noon to fish, and then first, second and third prizes were awarded for the biggest fish caught in each age group. Some really neat fishing gear was given away, but we weren’t in the prize money this year.

That’s OK, though, because we had a great time fishing. It seems like Powerbait with a bobber was the most popular way to go. McHaley has a lot of weeds so you needed to stay off the bottom. Those fish got pretty smart fast, though. You would set the hook after watching your bobber go clear under the water and get nothing! I think they were just mouthing the bait. Finally I just waited until the bait was half digested to set the hook. Ella and I caught eight or nine eating-size trout but no giants. We had some success with spinners, but it was hard to keep them out of the weeds. I think we may head back up with a dry fly outfit and see what we can do. We saw a few 17 or 18 inchers caught, but most of them are still out there.

Yep, it was crowded, and you needed to be there early to get a “prime” spot down on the west end of the pond where it is deepest, but we were late and still were able to get a good spot to fish. I noticed everybody seemed to be doing pretty well, no matter where they were.

Standing near a 4-year-old trying to cast can be a real adventure and lines were crossed many times.

However, everyone was friendly and patient with the little kiddos and tried hard to make it a good time for them. I will be back next year. If you come too, bring a chair, some water and sunscreen.

There isn’t much in the way of shade there. A fun attitude and a little patience for the little guys trying to catch a fish is a good idea as well.

We welcome your thoughts at shootingthebreezebme@gmail.com.

Rod Carpenter is a husband, father and hunting fool.

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