Story by Sara Paul
One hundred kids, 400 trout, and seventy spectacular degrees of sunshine descended on a picturesque Baird’s Farm on Sat., May 5 for the annual “Take a Kid Fishing Day,” sponsored by the Warwick Valley Rod and Gun Club in Warwick NY.
Children, parents, and grandparents were comfortably sprinkled along both sides of a lengthy, winding stream with chairs, buckets, tackle boxes, and necessary gear at their sides.
Besides the long-awaited Spring warmth, perhaps the loveliest part of the morning was a tranquility that seemed in conflict with the large number of individuals present. Focused fingers baited shiny hooks and all eyes seemed quietly fixated on the stream and the mysterious, temporary inhabitants one could carefully catch.
“There’s something about that stream that makes you feel calm and peaceful. People are spaced enough apart, and the kids are always well behaved,” commented Fishing Day Chair Jerry Debold.
The more than 25-year-old event was originally inspired by the Club’s desire to spread some good will in the community and get kids to engage more with nature and wildlife, according to Debold, owner of South Street Tires in the Village of Warwick for 18 years.
“It’s nice to see these kids outside. Kids are just not outside enough,” he said.
As trout are not the easiest fish to fry (or catch), the Club anticipated that not everyone would go home with ingredients for a scrumptious seafood dinner. However, every child who participated did receive a prize at the event’s noon-ish denouement. Give-a-ways included fishing rod and reel combos, tackle boxes, lures, and other outdoor recreation items.
“It’s nice to add some positive reinforcement, especially for the little ones. We want them to have a good time, and we want them to come back,” said event co-chair, Clint Smith.
Baird Farm owner, William Baird, who will celebrate his 100th birthday this year, has always been supportive of the fishing event, noted his grandson Rob Baird, who was in attendance with his son, Sean.
“My grandfather has a great relationship with the Club, and this is a way for him to give back,” he said.
“The Bairds have been nice enough to let us fish here, and it’s just great for the kids to get into the outdoors,” Smith stated.
Handing out worms and minnows, the day’s bait distributor and long-time Club member Cid Richardson, noted that though this kind of trout fishing with a strong current can be difficult, with some help from parents as well as local teen volunteers, the kids all enjoy the day.
“It really is more fun helping these kids learn to fish than it is to catch a fish myself,” said Rob Burghardt, 18, who is a graduate of Warwick Valley H.S. and a first-year student at SUNY Orange County Community College.
Club members confirm that they rely heavily on donations from local vendors to pay for the cost for the free community event. Contributions are used for the 250 or so prizes, plenty of bait, and of course, the trout, which is supplied by Beaver Brooks Hatchery.
As the Club is already planning next year’s festivities, donations can be mailed to Warwick Valley Rod and Gun Club, P.O. Box 376, Warwick, NY 10990.