MOORE, Okla. — Organizers of the Moore Fishing Derby hope to enable children in their community, located on the outskirts of Oklahoma City, to replace nightmares of killer tornadoes with fond memories of fishing.
Families are invited to bring their children to Buck Thomas Park’s pond on Saturday, July 27, from 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. for a morning of fishing. Rods, reels and bait will be provided. The pond is being stocked with fish to ensure youngsters will have good opportunities to catch something.
Residents in the state of Oklahoma have been hard hit by record-setting, weather-related tragedies this year. Just 11 days after the city of Moore was struck by a deadly EF5 tornado, the area of El Reno, also just outside Oklahoma City, was hit with another EF5 storm that set a record width of 2.6 miles. Moore has twice been hit by EF5 tornadoes — most recently in May 2013 and previously in 1999 with a storm that had recording-breaking wind speeds of 302 mph.
The fishing derby has been coordinated by Tackle the Storm Foundation in conjunction with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Fisheries Division, with the support of volunteers from the Oklahoma B.A.S.S. Nation, the North Oklahoma City Bassmasters, the Sooner Bassmasters and the Oklahoma City Junior Bassmasters clubs. Members from each of these organizations, along with several Bassmaster Elite Series anglers and representatives from the Moore Parks and Recreation Department, will be on hand to give children new fishing poles and help them fish.
The brainchild of Bassmaster.com writer Don Barone, Tackle the Storm Foundation aims to establish a sense of normalcy in a child’s life in the aftermath of a natural disaster, such as the devastating tornado that hit Cullman, Ala., in April 2011. That event, an EF4 storm, was the inspiration for Barone’s initiative.
The inaugural Tackle the Storm benefit took place on July 2, 2011, in Cullman at a small park lake with Bassmaster Elite Series anglers Steve Kennedy, Randy Howell, Matt Herren and Keith Poche helping to distribute rods and taking time to fish with the children.
“If you are a member of a B.A.S.S. club, or for that matter any kind of fishing club, in a small town, and you know kids who won’t be able to get to the city of Moore on July 27 — if you’ll come and tell us how many rods and reels you need, we will give them to you to take back to the children of your community,” Barone said. “We really need to reach as many of the children in the small towns outside of Moore … the small towns that may be overlooked but who need help … if anyone knows of a child in a small town that lost their fishing stuff due to the tornado, please let us know, and I will guarantee that we will get a rod and reel into that child’s hands.”
The goal of the project is straightforward: Get children who love to fish back on the water or teach those who want to learn the basics of fishing. Barone realizes the effort won’t restore everything to the way it was before the storm hit Moore and surrounding areas, but it will be a day for a kid to just be a kid.
“Recently I was asked if I thought that Tackle The Storm Foundation could possibly change a child’s life by giving them a fishing pole,” Barone said. “I understand the skepticism. But I answered the question by saying, ‘I don’t know if it will change their lives, but I can tell you, it will change their day.’”