Clouds hung low over Spring Lake Park this morning as the Texarkana, Texas Parks and Recreation Department presented the 20th Annual Fishing Derby.

According to event organizers, each year approximately 500 sportsmen of all ages attend the derby, eager to try their hand at trout fishing. During the first day of activity yesterday, 250 people came from area schools, group homes and organizations to participate. An equal number of people were expected to attend today.

“We invite any kind of organizations that have disabled kids or adults,” said Robby Robertson, Parks and Recreation manager, who headed up the free event.

Participants come out and fish, play games, and eat lunch, Robertson said. “It’s a chance for them to get out and have a good day and enjoy the day fishing.”

When Robertson started working for the parks and recreation department nine years ago as the special events coordinator he was in charge of the derby. At that time, a net was inserted into the deep end of the Spring Lake Park pool and used for fishing.

Five years ago, the parks and recreation department received an ADA fishing dock from Alcoa and installed it on the lake and have held the event there since 2007.

“People love it. The teachers love it because it’s a chance for them to get out of the classroom. Of course, the kids love it because they’re going to be able to come out here and catch a fish and spend a day at a park,” Robertson said.

Parents and teachers enthusiastically agree. “It’s very good for the kids. Some of them don’t get this outlet,” said Lou Murphy. “When they see something coming up out of the water and jumping around, that’s just fascinating to them. They like that.”

And what did the kids think? The students who attended from Union Elementary School had big fish stories to tell and were eager to show off their prize catch. These kids know what they’re having for dinner!

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