Oak Hollow youth fishing derby changes young lives

Jun. 01, 2013 @ 03:06 PM

In my travels as an outdoor writer, I come into contact with a lot of outdoor people. Hunters, anglers, and recreational shooters are among the nicest folks I ever encounter. Last week, at the Bianchi Cup, I spent some time with the champions of action pistol shooting. Part of this was an interview with Mickey Fowler who competed in the first Bianchi and won the second. I also spent some time with Rob Leatham, another Bianchi champion who described how Mickey Fowler mentored him in his early shooting. He said he felt a little bad when he beat Mickey because he’d have never succeeded without the guidance of Mickey.

He also related that he helped Doug Koenig in 1987 when Doug got into the sport. He laughed and said he created a monster because Doug has just clinched his 15th Bianchi Championship and he is virtually unstoppable.
No matter what endeavor you pursue, you must have a mentor to succeed. As you read this, likely you are thinking of someone who helped you to achieve your goals. Whether you get into bowling or ballet, cooking or kayaking, you need someone to help you.
My life has been richer for all those who helped me get started. I’ve written about many of them over the years and I’ve thanked them but I know I owe a debt of gratitude I can never repay. Our lives are shaped by those early mentors. The uncles and friends, and of course, Daddy were patient and generous. I know there were times when Daddy gave up some of his fishing time for me and those times mean a lot.
In the course of my life, I’ve undertaken a lot of adventures and every one of them involved a mentor who helped me learn the ropes. In my life, I’ve tried to pay the debt forward and I find I get more back than I put in. It was something my Mama knew. She once told me she didn’t know a single happy person who wasn’t happy because they did things for other people. I’ve spent three quarters of my life now and I haven’t either. There’s just something about helping someone else that makes life sweeter. If you think back to the best times in your life, they were when you were doing something for someone else.
Next Saturday, High Point’s Parks and Recreation will host an event that epitomizes that spirit of mentorship. The Oak Hollow Lake Annual Fishing Derby begins at 8:00 am and provides a great opportunity for kids of all social backgrounds a chance to try their hand at fishing. I’ve attended several of these events and it’s inspirational to see the excitement on the faces of the kids.
For well over 30 years Oak Hollow has held a youth fishing derby. Thousands of kids have celebrated an exciting Saturday morning catching fish both tiny and impressive. I can assure you that many who are now in their forties look back fondly at those Saturday mornings.  They caught fish, made new friends, and came home with a shirt, or a fishing rod, or a belly full of ice cream or hotdogs, and certainly with a fish worm smell.
There are four age groups in the Oak Hollow Youth Fishing Derby and sometimes the biggest fish comes from the youngest group. I’ll never forget when a tiny boy named Takota, if I remember right, caught a five or six pound largemouth on a piece of McDonald’s sausage.
Area businesses have donated prizes but there can always be more. At this time, there are still about 15 slots open with an upper limit of 125 kids. You must pre-register your child to participate. There are a few spaces still available for volunteers but call to make sure.
Dick Jones is an award winning freelance writer living in High Point. Larry is a five year old Fox Red Labrador retriever. Dick’s a member of the board of directors of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association. If you’d like to have him and Larry speak to your group, they can be reached at offtheporch52@yahoo.com