Kids, teens reel in new memories at USO Fort Riley Fishing Derby

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Dylan Williams, 11, daughter of Sgt. 1st Class James Davis, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, reels in a fish Aug. 20 during the annual USO Fishing Derby at Moon Lake. One-hundred kids and teens 5 to 15 years old participated and friends and family members were also encouraged to attend, bringing the total number of people enjoying the sunshine, lake and fishing to more than 500, said Scott Payne, USO Fort Riley director.

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Xavier Knox, 8, right, son of Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Knox, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Infantry Division, poses with his catfish alongside family friend Bobby Greathouse Aug. 20 during the annual USO Fishing Derby at Moon Lake. As part of Victory Week events, USO staff hosted the derby and provided a free fishing rod, reel and tackle kit to those signed up.

One-hundred kids and teens 5 to 15 years old participated in the annual USO Fort Riley Fishing Derby Aug. 20 at Moon Lake.

As part of Victory Week 2017 events, USO staff hosted the derby and provided a free fishing rod, reel and tackle kit to those signed up. They also served a free lunch to everyone in attendance.

Friends and family members were also encouraged to attend, bringing the total number of people enjoying the sunshine, lake and fishing to more than 500, said Scott Payne, USO Fort Riley director.

“It’s bringing families together,” he said. “We do that for (No Dough) dinner and this is another avenue we take during Victory Week.”

Other organizations like the Corps of Engineers, Army Community Service, Fort Riley Game Wardens and the Fort Riley Outdoorsman Group were in attendance to teach kids how to set up their pole, attach bait and lure, cast and more. Many of them walked about the lake, talking and playing with families.

Spc. John Pressgrove, 1st Engineer Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, sat on the shoreline watching his wife and 8-year-old twins fish. He said they have been fishing for about three years now.

When he asked his daughter why she liked to fish, she said, “I like to catch stuff, but not muck.”

Although his son has never caught anything, Pressgrove said he still asks to come out and fish. He added he is glad for events like these as they bring families closer together.

“I think that post wide events of this nature are very important for morale, to get them out of the house, to experience what is available on post,” Pressgrove said.

Xavier Knox, 8, son of Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Knox, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Inf. Div., grinned as he held up a catfish he caught. Although shy, Knox said he enjoys fishing because he likes luring in and catching the fish. It’s something he plans to continue for years to come, and while he does not like to eat the fish he catches, his dad does, he said while wrinkling his nose.

Perched upon rocks with her family, Dylan Williams, 11, daughter of Sgt. First Class James Davis, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Inf. Div., cast her line into the water and waited. Her younger sister, Scarlet, cast her line out, reeled it in and cast it out again, repeating the process.

“It’s a good thing to get kids outside,” Dylan said of the derby.

Although she does not care for the taste of fish, she said she enjoys catching and releasing the fish back in the water. She added all kids and teens should get outside and find an activity they love.

For Payne, the event was a reminder of his time in the Army and the time he spent with his family before he retired. He brought his own children to the fishing derby two years ago.

“I think it’s great,” he said. “My kids have been out here in the past when I was in the service. The first time my kids went fishing, we participated in this event.”

When registration opened, USO staff knew the slots would fill quickly and some Soldiers had not yet returned from deployment, so they set aside 20 slots to give those Soldiers the chance to return and register their children for the derby, Payne said.

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