The biggest fish of the contest was a 1 lb., 10 oz. catfish, caught by Grayson Maguire, 10, of Paso Robles

NORTH COUNTY — On Saturday, April 27, The Optimist Clubs of Paso Robles and Atascadero held their annual Optimist Kid’s Fishing Derby at Atascadero Lake. A total of 41 kids, all under the age of 15 years old and from all over San Luis Obispo County, arrived with their parents in hopes of landing the “Big One” and taking home the grand prize, chosen from a large selection of new fishing rods and reels, tackle boxes, and assorted fishing tackle. 

Beginning at 8 a.m., with onsite registration and pre-registered sign-ups on Eventbrite, some of the contestants were attending the Optimist Kid’s Fishing Derby for the first time after hearing of the event through flyers, word-of-mouth, and social media. 

Starting at 9 a.m., the fishing lines were in the water, and each child was ready for that familiar tug on the end of their pole with anticipated high hopes of winning the event. Almost immediately, the first fish was brought to the scales, and a long list of names of those who caught fish was started. By the 12 p.m. deadline, 73 fish were weighed, measured, and listed on the weigh-in sheets. A variety of rainbow trout, bass, bluegill, perch, and catfish were caught and mostlyreleased back into the lake.


After the final weigh-in, the biggest fish of the contest was a 1 lb., 10 oz. catfish, caught by Grayson Maguire, 10, of Paso Robles. Holding down second place was a 12 oz. rainbow trout, caught by Lizzie Legaspi, 13, of San Luis Obispo. The heaviest stringer was caught by Vivian Willmon, 8, of San Jose, who caught a total of 4 lbs., 2 oz. of rainbow trout.The smallest fish was also recognized and given a prize, caught by Abigail Newsom, 5, of Atascadero. Even though some of the contestants were shut out at the scales, all the kids and their parents were treated to a free BBQ Hot Dog lunch. After lunch, every child participated in the Kid’s Raffle for a huge assortment of fishing prizes. Every contestant went home with an Optimist Frisbee and some happy memories of the day’s events. 

The Optimist Kid’s Fishing Derby has become a biannual event in the North County. Event coordinator and Paso Robles Optimist Club Member Chuck Sawyer was very happy with the turnout and commented, “This is a great event for parents to spend some time with their kids, sitting by the lake, and enjoying a friendly competition. Fishing has always been a part of my life, and I’m glad to be able to share my passion for the outdoors with these kids and their families.” 

The event is provided free of charge by the Optimist Clubs of Paso Robles and Atascadero, with some assistance from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The next “Optimist Kid’s Fishing Derby” is planned for sometime in the Fall. Watch for announcements in the local newspapers, the “Optimist Club of Paso Robles” Facebook page, or Eventbrite. The Optimist Club is an International Service Organization dedicated to improving the lives of youth in the community. Anyone who wishes to join the club,or interested in finding out more information can call Jerry Tanimoto (805) 423-3364 or Chuck Sawyer (805) 591-9590.

“The Optimist Clubs can put your passions to work in the community. I’ve been a club member for 17 years andhelping to make the world a better place for youth in the community is what the Optimist Clubs are all about. I love being a part of this organization and I encourage anyone who has a passion for helping youth, or fishing, to become a member today,” Sawyer added.

Feature Image: Optimist Club members were on hand to serve food and refreshment to people at the Optimist Club Fishing Derby, held at Atascadero Lake. Photo provided by The Optimist Clubs