EagleHerald Editor

MARINETTE—With many area youth activities altered or canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a Marinette Police Department officer came up with a safe, outdoor event for children.

Patrol Lt. Joe Nault, a volunteer with the Healthy Youth Coalition of Marinette & Menominee Counties funding group, suggested the idea of a youth fishing derby.

“We were having a group meeting on some alternative fund-raising events, because of the COVID restrictions a lot of the indoor things are restricted, so I suggested an ice fishing event,” Nault said.

The event is a collaboration of the HYC and the Communities That Care (CTC) of Marinette and Menominee Counties organizations. The inaugural CTC/HYC Ice Fishing Derby will take place Jan. 9 at Red Arrow Park, 318 E. Bay Shore St., in Marinette.

Nault said youth ice fishing events were popular when he grew up in Marinette.

“I recall having some of those when I was younger,” he said. “The current (events) seem like they are more geared toward adults and high school fishing clubs. It didn’t seem like there was any for the real young kids.”

Nault said everyone in the group was in favor so he approached Mayor Steve Genisot, who also was supportive.

The family-friendly event will begin with a shotgun start at 11 a.m. and conclude at 1 p.m. Weigh-ins must be completed by 2 p.m. Pre-registration is required for the 100 pre-drilled holes. Check in starts at 10 a.m. in the pavilion/tent.

There are 100 spots available and people must be registered by Jan. 5. The registrations include a tin of wax worms for $15 per hole.

For those who need financial assistance for the entry fee, the Joseph “Shorty” Hoagland Trust through Farmers and Merchants Bank & Trust is picking up the cost. The code HOAGLANDTRUST15 must be entered when registering at ctcfishderby.eventbrite.com.

The maximum number of competitors for each hole is three youths per one supervising adult. If there are more than three youths, another adult must be present.

No shanties or fishing cameras are allowed. The maximum purchase allowed is three holes per adult registrant.

There will be two age brackets—0 to 7 and 8 to 14. The fish categories include perch/bluegill, game and other. Trophies will be presented for heaviest fish and most fish in each age bracket and fish category.

Waivers must be signed and filled out at event check-in. Kids need to bring their own fishing gears.

The event includes food, music, raffles and more. Only cash will be accepted for food and raffles.

Nault said numerous sponsors are responsible for the making the event a success, including the donation of prizes for the bucket raffles. The complete list of those sponsors is available on the HYC and CTC Facebook pages.

Nault said he hopes this first-ever event is the start of a tradition.

“I think it’s going to grow and I think the people who come this year are going to enjoy it,” he said.

Nault said the ice at Red Arrow was 3 inches thick as of last week and there were reports of people catching perch. He said a local DNR warden is working with him to monitor the ice conditions and any potential risky spots.

“We are pretty confident we are not going to have any safety issues,” he said.

If ice conditions are unsafe, the event will be moved to Feb. 13.

Adhering to COVID protocol, Nault said the pre-drilled holes are properly spaced apart. He said food will be prepared and pre-wrapped from Applejacks. He added that prize distribution and trophy presentations will be spaced out to avoid a congregation of people.

“I think everyone is getting used to all the restrictions we are living under, so it shouldn’t be a big surprise to what they are used to,” Nault said. “The nice thing down there, it’s wide open, there’s a lot of real estate, and we can use that to our advantage. It’s open air.”

All proceeds will go to HYC and CTC.