A proud angler and his fishing event mentor show off their catch at the CAST fishing event at Genoa National Fish Hatchery. (Photo courtesy of United Special Sportsmans Alliance)
Genoa Hosts Accessible Fishing Event for Children With Help of Very Large CAST
By Doug Aloisi
Genoa National Fish Hatchery
Possibly one of the greatest days of 2013 on the Upper Mississippi River happened in June, at the tail end of a torrential downpour that felt as though it nearly swept southwest Wisconsin into northern Illinois.
The Genoa National Fish Hatchery organized a fishing event on Pool 9 of the Upper Mississippi River with support from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Fisheries program field stations and the National Wildlife Refuges on the river, and with many local and national partners. The diverse group banded together to host a memorable fishing event for critically ill children and children with limited accessibility to enjoy the outdoors.
The event planning was supported by CAST for Kids and the United Special Sportsmans Alliance, two national advocates for creating opportunities to get critically ill children outside. Through these organizations, the participants and their families were contacted and children were outfitted with fishing poles and gear to make a morning of fishing a reality on the big river.
The only thing left to chance was the weather and did we ever find out just what nature is capable of. On the morning of the 21st, Genoa recorded over 3.25 inches of rain in one hour. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Blackhawk Park, where the event was scheduled to take place, ended up underwater in many places. With children and their families already on their way, Plan B was executed and the accessible fishing pond located on Genoa National Fish Hatchery grounds became the new location for the event.
One of the many volunteer mentors who helped make the CAST event a success, helps a young angler try to land a prize catch. (Photo courtesy of United Special Sportsmans Alliance)
After a tour of the hatchery, the skies cleared and the children were let loose on the hatchery pond stocked with bluegill, sunfish, yellow perch and rainbow trout. Many smiles were created as volunteer boat captains and others helped the kids reel in their "trophies."
Much gratitude and thanks go to Service staff, our local Friends groups, and the volunteer boat captains who never got a chance to get their boats in the water, but stayed and helped the children fish.
After catching their fill of fish, a barbecue lunch sponsored by the Genoa Lions Club finished off the day.