When it comes to “first fish” pics, chances of squealing are high, sometimes Dad has to step in and do the heavy lifting, and those jack-o’-lantern smiles quite often indicate the tooth fairy’s been around recently.

Here’s hoping digital scrapbooks get filled with more memories during the Fox Valley Park District’s Free Youth Fishing Derby – an annual event organized and run by the District’s Operations team. This year’s Derby is set for 8:30 a.m. to noon this Saturday (June 29) at Jericho Lake, located on Jericho Road about a quarter mile west of the Orchard Road/Jericho intersection.

Last year’s event featured 60 young anglers on a sun-kissed morning at Jericho in late May.

“Lots of families last year and lots of people saying it was their first time fishing, even for some older folks,” says Chris Kuehn, an event organizer and the FVPD’s manager of arboriculture, lake management and IPM.

“This is one of the rewards of the job, providing a meaningful service to residents … and there’s nothing like seeing a kid’s face light up when that bobber goes under water.”

The Fishing Derby is geared toward youth, but all are welcome. There is no cost or advance registration, though anglers 16 and older are required by law to possess a valid fishing license.

Limited fishing poles will be available for those without gear, and live bait (nightcrawlers) will be provided. Young anglers can win prizes in friendly competitions such as biggest fish, most fish, and more. Raffles will be held and an all-beef hotdog lunch will be grilled onsite and served by members of the District’s Operations team.

Operations staff, along with members of the Marmion Academy Bass Fishing Team, will be on hand to assist with baiting hooks, resolving equipment issues, and removing and releasing fish – after the phone pics, of course.

The rain-or-shine event “is always circled on the calendar,” says Jerad Campbell, the FVPD’s director of operations. “We have some dedicated anglers on the team, and the Derby allows us to connect directly with residents in an impactful way. We enjoy the opportunity to meet, exchange some fishing tips, and share a few laughs with the participants.”

Things to know when you arrive: 

  • Derby headquarters will be staged in the pavilion at the southwest end of the lake. (When you enter off Jericho Road, continue straight until you reach the back of the lot, where ample parking is available.)
  • Please check-in when you arrive to receive a wristband and ensure entry into raffles and contests.
  • Fishing will take place until 11 a.m., when an awards ceremony will be held in the pavilion, and lunch will be served. 

“We’ve got a beautiful park and beautiful lake here, why not put it to good use?” says Kuehn. “Fishing is the ultimate recreational activity – a low-cost opportunity to get outside with friends or family and no doubt meet a whole bunch of new people along the way.”

The Free Youth Fishing Derby is sponsored by the Fox Valley Park District’s Operations team, Dicky’s Bait Shop, Terrapin Aquatics Management, and Pessina Tree Service, LLC.