Club raises funds to provide scholarships and support various youth activities in the community

PASO ROBLES — Children of all ages gathered their fishing rods and bait for a good cause and day of fishing at the Santa Margarita Lake on Saturday, April 22. To support local youth activities, the Paso Robles Optimist Club hosted its 15th annual Fishing Derby. 

For about 15 years, the club has been hosting up to three fishing derbies per year. Due to COVID-19 and drought, the number of derbies was cut back to one last year. The derby was brought back last year and with a great turnout, however, the water level in the lake was low.

2023 Optimist Club Fishing Derby Contributed 37 scaled e1682544469485
Paso Robles Optimist Club Hosts Fishing Derby to Support Local Youth

Club member Chuck Sawyer was impressed with the turnout on Saturday

“We had approximately 85 kids signed up and almost all of them attended the event,” he said. “There were kids of all ages and some were fishing for the first time.”

Proceeds from the club’s fundraiser will go towards their mission of supporting local youth. Putting together the derby is a labor of love from a few local organizations.

“I purchase the raffle poles from Zebco, who has a special deal for kid’s fishing programs. The raffle tackle boxes are purchased at Wal-Mart,” Sawyer explained. “We provide all the funding for the derby from fundraisers we have throughout the year and also have funding assistance from the California Dept of Fish and Wildlife. The Atascadero Optimist Club provides the cooking for the event and prepares the seating area for the post-derby hot dog lunch and raffle.”

The derby was the brainchild of Paso Robles Optimist Del Bishop, one of the top bass fishermen in the area. He drafted others to assist him, including someone with a love of fishing and providing service to kids. The members of the club are encouraged to bring their passion to the club and find ways to incorporate those passions into helping kids. The club wants to show the youth of the area that there is a service group that cares about them and wants to support their efforts to just be kids.

“We hold the derbies as a way to give back to the youth of our area. The Optimist Club is dedicated to improving the lives of youth in the community and this event goes a long to promote that effort,” Sawyer said. “I grew up fishing and have never lost that desire to be on the water. Watching a kid experience the thrill of catching their first fish and the smiles they have from ear to ear make it all worth the effort.” 

The Paso Robles Chapter is a part of the International Optimist Club organization, which started in 1919. The club provides scholarships to high school seniors and supports all types of youth activities. Paso Robles Optimist Club, a service organization dedicated to improving the lives of youth in the community, has been active since 1991. The club has supported numerous youth activities, including Boy Scouts, baseball teams, and scholarships for high school seniors through an annual essay contest. 

To increase their involvement in the community, Sawyer says the Paso Robles Optimist Club is looking to add more volunteers.

“We do need more volunteers who share that passion to help youth in this world, and our club would love to have more people step up and assist us in that effort,” he said.

Anyone interested in participating in events sponsored by the club or wishing to know more about joining the club can contact Sawyer at (805) 591-9590 or Linda Stermer at (805) 238-2410. The club holds dinner meetings on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month at 6:30 p.m. Locations vary.