5th Annual Detroit River Kids Fishing Festival
BY JUSTIN CHIOTTI, ALPENA FWCO -WATERFORD, MICHIGAN SUBSTATION
The weather cleared up for the 5th Annual Detroit River Kids Fishing Festival held at Milliken State Park and Harbor along the Detroit River Walk. This summer’s event was held during Michigan’s Free Fishing Weekend. Fish biologists from the Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office – Waterford Substation and staff from the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge were present to introduce children and adults in the Detroit Metropolitan Area to fishing and to promote aquatic stewardship. Over the past three years nearly 2,000 children have fished along the Detroit River during this event.
The stormy weather in the morning did not deter the nearly 300 participants this year who were taught “fishing basics” by instructors from the Michigan State Parks Explorers Program, boating safety by the United States Coast Guard, and educated about aquatic invasive species by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. This year a trophy was given out to the largest fish captured in both girl and boy divisions. Fishing poles, tackle, and other prizes were also raffled off throughout the day.
The Detroit River Kids Fishing Festival gives the youth in the Detroit Metropolitan Area an opportunity to connect with the outdoors. The list of volunteers and supporters for the event grows each year and it’s not hard to understand why after seeing the joyful smile of a child catching a fish for the first time. The Detroit River is designated as an Area of Concern in the Great Lakes, but is undergoing a transformation before our eyes. Funding through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is restoring fish and wildlife habitat all along the Detroit River and the children attending the Detroit River Kids Fishing Festival are reaping the benefits.
This year the event was presented by Detroit Riverfront Conservancy in support with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Rivertown Detroit Association, Concentra, Wayne County Parks, Sierra Club, Concentra, Friends of the Detroit River, Michigan State University Extension, and Michigan Sea Grant.