Several hundred eager younger anglers and their families tried their luck at the annual Fishing Derby held at the Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery June 2. The long standing local tradition is a part of National Fishing and Boating Week and is intended to introduce young people to the outdoors and to the sport of fishing.
The Alexandria Zoo was on hand with educational materials and a baby alligator. Representatives from Caddo Parish’s Walter Jacobs Memorial Nature Park were joined by an owl who lives there. There was also face painting and a casting contest to keep the young fishermen and women busy. Natchitoches Regional Medical Center supplied grilled burgers for lunch.
The hatchery, a part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, stocked each of two ponds with 2,000 channel catfish especially for the event. The hatchery raises several species of endangered, imperiled and threatened fish in order to increase their populations. The fish are then sent to states as far away as Tennessee.
While this is the only day that fishing is allowed at the hatchery, the main building houses several displays on area wildlife and history which are open to the public during normal business hours.