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Fishing derbies abound this weekend

May 14, 2009 at 02:55 PM

The annual migration of bullheads peaks at Glen Oak Lagoon today. Thousands of the frisky whiskered bottom dwellers will be trucked to the Peoria fishing oasis this morning — and just in time.

Because this Saturday at the lagoon, more than a thousand anglers are expected to wet a line during the 38th annual Clyde West Fishing Derby.

“It’s always shoulder-to-shoulder all the way around the lagoon,” said Steve Montez of the Peoria Park District. “It’s fun. This is one of the best events I’ve worked over the years.”

Seeing so many young anglers fishing and smiling at every catch brings back fond memories for Montez, who grew up in East Moline and spent his childhood along the Mississippi and Rock rivers and the Hennepin Canal.

“I’ve walked every inch of that canal,” Montez said Wednesday, while wheeling a cart filled with fishing gear through Presley’s Outdoors in Bartonville. “I’ve had some great times fishing.”

Creating similar memories for youngsters is a main reason for the longevity of this free event, which the late West started in 1972. The first derby was held for anyone 50 or older and special buses picked up anglers around Peoria. Shortly thereafter the derby was expanded to youngsters — a mix that has worked well since.

“I remember one time a few years ago somebody caught a 12-pound albino catfish during the tournament,” Montez said.

On Saturday fishing will be broken down into three groupings. Anglers age 9 and under fish from 9-11 a.m., ages 10-13 take over from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and seniors and anglers with disabilities take center stage from 1-3 p.m.

Incidentally, the lagoon will be off limits after 11 a.m. today until the start of the derby. So no, you can’t catch up a mess of bullheads for dinner tonight.

As for all that fishing gear in Montez’s cart, those goodies will be given away as door prizes and to award anglers who catch one of 150 tagged bullheads.

To learn more call (309) 681-2854.

The Clyde West derby is one of several free youth fishing events scheduled this weekend.

The next longest-running hook-fest is Saturday in Canton, where the Kiwanis Club holds its 30th annual youth fishing event at McCamey Lake in Lakeland Park. Fishing is from 8-11 a.m.

The Canton event is open to all children in Fulton County and the surrounding area who are 13 and younger and are supervised by an adult. Prizes will be awarded throughout the day and there will be a casting accuracy contest.

In case of rain, an announcement will be made after 7 a.m. on WBYS-AM 1560.

Also Saturday is the Kid’s Fishing Expo from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Baker Lake near Peru. The Better Fishing Association of Northern Illinois has food, snacks and prizes to give away in addition to seminars and live-fish displays. Call (815) 220-3901.

Then on Sunday, Galesburg has a derby at the Lincoln Park Lagoons at Lake Storey for youngsters 15 and under. A casting contest will be held at 10:30 a.m. Registration starts at noon and fishing is from 1-3 p.m. Any angler who catches a fish wins a prize. Call (309) 342-7776.

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