Hey, kids! Let’s go fishing!
It’s time for the annual Lake Eaton Kids’ Fishing Derby at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Ocala Conservation Center and Youth Camp. The derby will be held on Saturday, April 4, starting at 8:30 a.m. for children ages 6-12.
Advance registration is required, and space is limited to the first 100 children, who also get a free derby t-shirt. To sign up, call the FWC’s Ocala office at 352-732-1225 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., weekdays. The Ocala Conservation Center is 8.5 miles north of State Road 40 off County Road 314 in the Ocala National Forest.
Everything the kids need to fish, including cane poles, bait and instruction, will be provided by the FWC. The kids will fish from a pier. For safety reasons and to avoid tangled lines, please leave your rod and reel home. New this year, the Marion County Parks and Recreation Department is donating a county park pass to the participant who catches the tagged fish.
In addition to fishing, there will be a casting contest, an arts and crafts activity and an all-time favorite called “Bugs and Critters.” In this activity, the kids get to wade into the lake with dip nets and scoop up fish, bugs and other aquatic critters. An FWC biologist uses the experience to teach kids about the aquatic ecosystem. The kids will get wet, so they should bring a change of clothes, including old shoes.
The FWC wants to thank its partners; without their support, this derby would not be possible. Partners are the Marion County Parks and Recreation Department, City of Ocala Parks and Recreation Department, U.S. Forest Service, Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network, Fish Florida, and Pollard Bait Co. in Leesburg.