Youth reeled in fun during Saturday’s Kids Fishing Derby at McHaley Pond in Prairie City.

The event drew 63 kids and about as many parents, grandparents and older siblings.

Wayne and Rhonda Bernard of Prairie City, along with their Yorkshire Terrier named Tuffy, watched their young grandchildren fish from camp chairs.

“It’s fun,” Wayne said. “I used to fish out here when I was a kid.”

“It’s one of the best things to happen in Grant County for the kids,” Rhonda added. “It is so much fun watching the little kids — it’s absolutely fantastic. It’s a great family affair.”

Five-year-old Orean Maurer of John Day fished with his sister, Evangeline, age 3, with help from their mom, Alexandria.

“I felt a tug!” he exclaimed.

On the other side of the pond, 9-year-old Kayden Moles of John Day caught a small trout, which he released, then a couple minutes later reeled in a keeper.

His biggest catch of the day, at that point, was 15 inches long.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife had fishing gear on hand for those who needed a pole or bait. Kids also had the option of filling out a Free Fishing Day Passport Book, adding stickers as they completed a list of activities.

Eight-year-old Erin Donathan of Prairie City made a colorful fish print, and 9-year-old Keilon Watson of John Day completed a Chinook salmon puzzle.

Other stations included salmon life cycle bracelet-making and a spin-the-wheel question-and-answer game.

The Malheur National Forest had a booth about fire prevention, which included a visit from Smokey Bear.

“We really want people to know that the pond is open to the public,” said Confederated Tribes biologist Emily Davis.

She said they welcome visitors to fish anytime.

“We’re glad people now know where it is and have the opportunity,” she said.

McHaley Pond is located a half mile east of Prairie City; turn right at the Forrest Conservation Area sign (a sign reads “office”) and follow a dirt road to the pond.

The event was sponsored by the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Malheur National Forest.

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