Paso Robles Police Activities League Hosts Fifth Annual Fishing Derby, which draws over 100 youth 

PASO ROBLES — It was no prank, young fishermen were up bright and early on Saturday, April 1, for the Fifth Annual Dave Macnamara Fishing Derby. 

“The turnout was great,” said Paso Robles Police Activities League (PAL) President Walter Canizalez, who is also a school resource officer at Paso Robles Police Department (PRPD).

Over 100 youth showed up at Barney Schwartz Park for the Fishing Derby on Saturday. The derby is hosted by the Paso Robles Police Activities League (PAL), the Atascadero Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, the Black Brandt Group, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Canizalez noted there were young anglers ready to go when he arrived at the park that morning.

“Being a Police Activities League-sponsored activity, we want the youth to continue to be outdoors and have some sort of activities, some outlet,” he said. “We had a killer turnout, and people are happy.”

Since 1994, the PRPD has been involved with PAL, a statewide nonprofit organization. They work to provide youth-oriented programs for the community.

The fishing derby started bright and early at 8 a.m. on Saturday. PAL provided rods, reels, and bait, to the first 100 kids to show. Canizalez explains the complimentary gear was given in hopes the kids would enjoy the activity even after the derby. Throughout the day, prizes were given out for different accomplishments the kids reached. At the end of the day, around noon, lunch was provided for all the participating kids.

On the day before the derby, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife fills the pond with about 1,000 trout. The Atascadero Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation and PRPD Community Volunteer Patrol were available to assist anyone new to the fishing game. Anglers were welcome to catch and release or keep their catches of the day.

The goal of PAL is to advocate for community involvement and youth activities. Canizalez was happy to see families spending time together and even making new friends. He hopes to make the event sustainable and continue as a yearly tradition for families.

Five-year-old Myra Garretson was at the derby for the first time last weekend. Be it beginner’s luck or skill, Garretson was the first to catch a fish in the derby. 

“Youth activities are huge because it gives youth, in general, an outlet,” Canizalez further explains.

Another popular program offered by the Paso Robles PAL chapter is the Jr. Giants Baseball League. The Giants League is a non-competitive league to teach kids the basics of baseball and softball and the life lessons that go with the game. Young athletes can look forward to this program kicking off in the coming weeks.

For more information on the Paso Robles PAL Chapter, visit

Feature Photo:  Myra Garretson, 5, poses with her fish that was the first one caught at the Fifth Annual Dave MacNamara Fishing Derby at Barney Schwartz Park on Saturday, April 1. Photos by Camille DeVaul/PRP