Nineteen Eden Prairie Safety Camp graduates, four Eden Prairie police officers and four Let’s Go Fishing-Eden Prairie Chapter crewmen participated in a first-ever Cops-N-Bobbers fishing excursion last Thursday on Lake Riley.
Mayor Ron Case delivered Eden Prairie pins to the youth as well as perfect summer weather.
After splitting the crew between two Let’s Go Fishing pontoons, the captains ushered their respective boats to their favorite fishing spots.
Sgts. Brent Dupont and John Wilson were on one boat, patrolmen Jayden DeVibiss and Spencer Barrie on the other.
The kids came with various degrees of fishing experience.
“I caught a sunny once,” said one third-grader.
“I caught a northern this big,” said a friend, while extending his third-grade arms as wide as he could.
Barrie and DeVibiss didn’t need to hear any of this.
“Our boat will double whatever your boat catches,” they proclaimed, as the pontoons were leaving the dock.
“It’s fun to beat your bosses,” they added, in a quieter tone.
Eight-year-old Olive Polhill landed the evening’s first fish, and it took her all of 30 seconds to do so.
A boatload of sunfish, caught and released, would follow.
A clicker was used to record the boat’s catch.
When the DeVibiss/Barrie boat’s catch had eclipsed the 30-mark, Barrie placed a call to the other boat.
“They’re not answering,” he said. “They’re either really busy or working really hard.”
When the clicker hit 50, he tried again.
“They’re at 27,” said DeVibiss. “That’s half of where we’re at; just like we said.”
The shadowy side of the boat had the most action, and the girl who was fishing on the sunny side noticed.
“The only thing that would make my day any better,” she said, “would be to catch a fish, even if it was just a minnow.”
She moved into the shade and landed her first-ever sunfish. Ten minutes later, she landed fish No. 7.
For nearly two hours, the action was furious.
“I’m at 18,” said Camden Bawek.
“I just caught 19,” countered Nolan Pease.
For most of the third-graders, the touching of fish, or bait, was simply not going to happen.
Elise Hoffman was one of the exceptions, as she handled her own fish.
For one young fisher-person, getting a fish off the hook was accomplished with a simple request:
“Can you un-fish this?” she asked.
Most common request? Without question, it was, “I need more bait.”
Actually, the DeVibiss/Barrie boat did need more bait, as four containers of worms were consumed in the process of catching 118 fish.
White maggots and kernels of corn were offered, to both fishermen and fish, but found few takers.
One and a half hours into the excursion, and after the clicker had surpassed the 100 mark, the boat’s captain had proposed a ride around the lake.
“Should we wrap it up and take a 20-minute boat ride?” he asked.
“No,” answered the 8- and 9-year-olds. “We want to fish.”
So fish they did.
The boats returned to the dock in unison. Kids were smiling, the police were smiling and the Let’s Go Fishing volunteers were smiling.
As the kids were getting off the boats, the Eden Prairie Fire Department was launching its boat.
With the kids at the end of the dock, the fire boat whooped its siren and turned on its lights.
They then turned their fire hose at the kids at the end of the dock.
Want to see a bigger smile? Just add water.
The day ended with Let’s Go Fishing Vice President Mike Gruidl presenting each of the participants with a rod and reel, tackle box and Let’s Go Fishing “wall eye.”
Note: A donation from Eden Prairie’s Crime Prevention Fund helped pay for the parting gifts.
“When we do it again,” said Dupont, “I’d suggest using one officer for two kids, as it can get kind of busy.”
Dupont then heard about the 118 fish caught on the DeVibiss/Barrie boat, and the reporter who was removing fish and baiting hooks alongside the two patrolmen.
“Wait a minute,” said Dupont, “you had an extra hooker? That shuts it (fishing contest) down.”
You can un-fish a fishing contest? Really?
Editor’s note: The Let’s Go Fishing Eden Prairie chapter has been taking seniors, veterans and youth fishing on Eden Prairie lakes for seven years. It owns two pontoons and runs free fishing trips two and three times per day, June through September. Last year, it took 3,400 individuals fishing.
Let’s Go Fishing is a nonprofit based in Willmar. The Eden Prairie chapter is the largest of 17 Minnesota affiliate chapters. For more information, go to lgfedenprairie.com.