Panfish are colorful, but also extra spiny

WHATCOM ­— The 37th annual free Kids Bluegill Fishing Derby, hosted by the Borderline Bassin’ Contenders, is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 15, at Fazon Lake in the 2200 block of East Hemmi Road. Registration opens at 10 a.m.

All kids receive a tackle pack and snacks at registration.

Age divisions of the derby are 5 and under, 6 to 9, and 10 to 14. Adults may cast for children 5 and under, but the child must reel in the fish.

Judging is in three categories, said tournament director Roy Hawes — biggest fish, smallest fish, and most fish. A first, second and third place will be awarded in each age group.

Panfish are the targeted species for this derby; other fishes do not count towards derby awards. 

In some areas, especially during their spawning season, the male panfish are strikingly colored bright blue, purple and orange. “They are a great fish to get kids hooked on fishing,” said Hawes.

There is this caution, however: Panfish have very sharp and spiny dorsal fins (on their back) and they need to be handled with care.

A boat is recommended in this derby, as shore fishing is limited. All boating safety rules must be complied with. If more than one kid is in a boat, they need to keep their catches separated (usually in a bucket, and buckets will be available).

It’s also $5 per ticket to enter the $500 Yeager’s Gift Card Raffle. All extra collected in this raffle will be used for the 2020 derby.

This derby has at least 17 co-sponsors.