Among the throng, Oscar Lopez and his 10-year-old son Alexys claimed a small spot along the south shore of the marina between two clumps of reeds.
“It’s nice,” Oscar said of the free fishing day sponsored by the Sparks Rotary Club and the Nevada Department of Wildlife. “It’s a good time to spend with my son.”
For nine years, the rotary club has stocked the marina with thousands of trout and invited local children and their families to come grab a free fishing pole and cast their lines without a fishing license.
“It’s about kids having fun,” said Charlie Archiniega, the Sparks Rotary Club’s fishing day chairman. “We just try to provide them with a morning of a fun activity that is free.”
As Archiniega looked over the crowded shore, other Sparks Rotary Club members offered free hot dogs, sodas, T-shirts and ice cream to eager little hands, all for free.
The Rotarian said that he planned for 1,500 kids to register, adding that actual attendance numbers would be at least twice that because parents would be accompanying their kids.
A heap of half-opened fishing pole boxes sat beneath a canopy nearby, all purchased by the rotary club for kids who needed them.
“It is fun to see kids bring back poles that we gave them a few years ago,” Archiniega said.
On Thursday, officials from the Nevada Department of Wildlife trucked in more than 5,000 fish from hatcheries in northern Nevada.
The rainbow and tiger trout were spewed into the south side of the marina. They were then corralled into a small space by a net that stopped fish from swimming more than 20 feet out from the shoreline, increasing the childrens’ chance of catching something Saturday.
According to volunteers from the Nevada Department of Wildlife, once the event is over, the barrier is pulled up and the remaining fish are let loose into the rest of the marina.
Charmaine LaMay and her husband Rick were down by the water volunteering by helping children untangle their lines and bait their hooks.
Rick and Charmaine, downtown Reno Rotarians, were two of almost 100 who volunteered their time for the event.
“I think it is important for everybody to be a good community citizen,” Charmaine said. “This is a great family time and it is clean fun. These are tough times and this is quite something they put together for the kids.”
Nearby, a small voice squealed when a fish latched onto the child’s line.
Down by the shore, Oscar and Alexys were hoping one of those fish would bite.
“We have been coming for six years now,” Oscar said as Alexys ran to a Rotary Club volunteer to get some more free bait for his bright blue line.
“Maybe this year we will catch something,” he added with a laugh.
Once the pole was baited, Alexys swung it back and let the line fly.
“That was a good one,” Oscar said as he exchanged a bright smile with his son.