Her third time at the Jackson County Parks + Rec Kids Fishing Derby was the charm for 8-year-old Peyton Ray of Lee’s Summit, Mo. Her 10-inch-long, eight-ounce crappie won the event on Saturday, May 2, at Lake Jacomo, earning Peyton the first-place trophy.
“She’s just excited that she gets to do a tournament,” said Peyton’s mom, Courtney Ray.
Angling talent runs in the Ray family, and family was a theme at the 34th annual free event for youth up to age 15. Parents and grandparents brought their children and grandchildren out to pass on their love of fishing. There were trophies for the top finishers and consolation prizes for the rest.
“This is definitely a great way to spend time together as a family,” said Clifton Printy of Blue Springs, who was there with his wife and their two children. Using nightcrawler worms dug from their yard as bait, son Timothy, age 6, had already caught three fish 30 minutes into the tourney. “We’ve been fishing all year and having a blast.”
Mark Trosen, deputy director of Jackson County Parks + Rec,, said the Fishing Derby is “a great activity for kids.”
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for us to feature our lakes and invite kids, and certainly to introduce them to fishing,” he said. “We have great support from the members of the Lake Lotawana Optimist Club and the Missouri Trout Fishermen’s Association.”
Each of the 145 child entrants was offered a cane pole, and several took home fiberglass rods and reels donated by local merchants and given away in a drawing at the end of the tourney. Other prizes included footballs, soccer balls and skateboards.
Even those who didn’t catch anything from the shore of Lake Jacomo enjoyed themselves.
Sandy Neidholt, a nurse from Blue Springs, brought her six grandchildren.
“We were here last year for the derby, and the kids enjoyed it,” she said. “We go out to lunch afterward and make a day of it.”