Trout and Sunfish and a Snake, Oh My!
2017 Russell H. Gilbert Memorial Kids Free Fishing Day in White Cloud Huge Success
Story and photos by Charles Chandler
Once again in a perfect setting on a perfect Michigan day Mom Annette, daughters Diane, Donna, Deb, and other Gilbert kin along with a slew of volunteers hit it out of the park.
For the last 34 years these descendants and relatives of former White Cloud Mayor Russell H. have gathered on the first Saturday in June on Lake White Cloud (Mill Pond) to host the Russell H. Gilbert Memorial Kids Free Fishing Day for local area kids ages 3- 16.
This year between 200 and 250 folks attended the event and early Saturday morning many anxious fishermen, some incredibly small and cute, with parents in tow queued up at the big tent to register for the day’s competition. There were 200 tagged fish to be caught with associated values ranging from $1:00 to $100.00, along with other great prizes for the three biggest rainbow trout and the biggest fish in five other categories and the Gilbert Memorial Always Room for Improvement Trophy. There were other prizes including a four burner outdoor gas grill and...
...a 32 inch LED HD TV. The ticket number drawing prizes were for four bicycles, two small boys and girls bikes for ages 3 were provided by Lisa at Buckys Barbershop and two large boys and girls bikes for ages 4 -16 bikes were provided by the Gilberts.
After registering the fishermen, parents and visitors moved to their lucky spots around the lake, and began rigging their favorite fishing rods with bobbers and worms and waited for the 9:00 A.M. start. At the main tent the volunteers were serving up an abundance of morning pastries to early risers and the sleepy late comers.
After the 9:00 AM starting bell, Mom Annette, Diane, Donna, and Deb manned their official measuring station, verified and documented the tag number on the big tote board and paid the associated value to the lucky fisherman. The first fish of the day brought to the measuring table was a feisty 5 ½ inch sunfish landed by four year old Amelia Shepp and supported by Mom Ashley of White Cloud. Throughout the day good numbers of trout were brought in including rainbows, a brown, and a brook trout. In the other five categories there were an interesting variety of fish brought up. These included bluegill, bass, carp, a small sculpin, chubs and suckers. One mischievous participant brought an interesting specimen up to be measured and caused quite a commotion.
When official fish measurer Deb Tanis saw up close and personal what appeared to be a lovely Butler's Garter Snake she momentarily abandoned the table and her official duties.
By about 10:00 AM several tag dollars were paid to happy fisherman include two rainbow trout worth $50.00 each. Again the volunteers served the hungry fishermen and their support staff a delicious hot dog lunch.
At 3:00 PM finally call was announced and a few minutes later the day’s lucky winners were announced. Donald Lee, first place for the largest rainbow measuring in at 13 ¾ inches, Hunter Cliolk, first place for the Brown Trout, Alex Cruzan largest Bass at 10 ½ inches, Elisabeth Kent a first place with a 6 inch Bluegill and Courtney Cooper with the sculpin for most unique fish and the Gilbert Memorial Always Room for Improvement Trophy went to Jessica Cupts. Mr. Jordan Holm found the magic and brought in nine tagged fish for a prize winning total of $240.For the bicycle drawings Kade Burgess was a proud owner of the small boy’s bike.
In addition to Gilbert Memorial Kids Free Fishing activities White Cloud Police Chief Dan Evans, wife Tammy and daughter Grace manned a booth for the White Cloud Police Department. They were giving away gun locks to promote firearm safety in the home. Kits for parents to collect and store their child's DNA at home and handing out educational brochures on what a citizen can expect during contact with a police officer on a traffic stop or criminal investigation.
Also the White River Longbeards a local chapter of the Wild Turkey Federation and sponsor for the Kids Free Fishing day had a tent and staffed a shooting safety BB gun range across the street in Smith Park. Mr. Tom Birdsell was the range safety instructor.
It was a beautiful day and another successful Russell H. Gilbert Memorial Kids Free Fishing Day. The small fisher people and their supporting family and friends appeared to have a grand time and folks in White Cloud thank the Gilbert clan for hosting an awesome event and keeping the fishing tradition alive.
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