The 2017 Aldo Leopold Kid’s Fishing Derby, held June 3 on Gila National Forest, drew more than 120 participants. The youngest fisherwoman was 2 and the youngest fisherman was 3. Children come from throughout the area to participate, some coming from as far as 5 hours away. The biggest fish caught were a 23” catfish and a 17” Gila trout.
Gila employees presented information about the behavior of Gila trout in a mock habitat, corrected misconceptions about the Gila trout and shared information about native wildlife. In addition, they helped children practice casting and archery, cleaned up trash and cooked burgers. Smokey Bear joined employees to share his message at a fire prevention booth and also was seen taking photos and checking out the fish.
The annual event is sponsored by the Wilderness District of Gila National Forest in cooperation with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and New Mexico Department of Game and Fish as well as nonprofits and local businesses. This is the sixth year the forest has hosted the derby.