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Free fishing derby: Kiwanis Club of Cape Coral to hold 32nd annual kids’ event

By CJ HADDAD - | May 6, 2021

A tradition running more than three decades takes place next Saturday in Cape Coral that gives local youth the chance to reel in the catch of the day.

The 32nd annual Kiwanis Club of Cape Coral Free Fishing Derby for boys and girls ages 5-15 takes place May 15 at the Cape Coral Yacht Club pier.

The first 300 kids to arrive will be given their own rod, reel and bait (to keep) and given instruction on how to get their line to bite.

The derby starts at 8:30 a.m. and runs until 11:30. Trophies will be awarded to the boy and girl with the biggest fish, smallest fish, most fish and most unusual catch. There also will be door prizes, such as new bicycles, given at the end of the day.

Kiwanis member Wally Laumeyer came up with the idea for the derby when he was at the Yacht Club one day and saw an angler out on the pier with many rods around him. Laumeyer, now 89, asked the man why he had so many rods, and the man told him he kept them around in case any kids showed up and wanted to use them.

That resonated with Laumeyer, who often spent time fishing as a youth in Minnesota with his dad, remembering how it made him feel as a youth to catch that first fish.

“I picked up maybe 40 or 50 poles (that first year) and decided to put something together for the kids,” he said. “After that, the event kept growing. Some years we’ve had more than 300 kids show up.”

Laumeyer has retained that love for fishing into his adulthood and is always happy to be able to teach a first lesson or introduce a youth to the hobby.

“What’s surprising is there’s so much water, and we’ve had some kids here that have never fished,” he said. “To see some of the their faces the first time they fish, it does my heart good. I love it, I really do.”

Funding for the event comes directly from Kiwanis. No registration is necessary. The Kiwanis Club urges parents to attend, and younger participants must be accompanied by an adult.

The Cape Coral Yacht Club is at 5819 Driftwood Parkway.

–Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj