Taxes were due today, and like many Americans I’m usually less than thrilled to contribute. But that’s largely because I forget the privileges it affords me and don’t always see first-hand how that money is spent. But today was different.
The Gavin’s Point National Fish Hatchery (NFH) and Aquarium, near Yankton, SD, held their Fishing Derby. From 10-noon, kids ages 12 and under fished from two ponds full of rainbow trout. We all traveled from out of town, without a fishing pole, bait or tackle- but the Hatchery had all of this available to use!
When we arrived outside at 10am, the shore line was already 3 kids deep. Staff told us they estimated 400+ children cast lines into the pond during the event. Eventually the crowds thinned and our turn came. With the ponds fully stocked, my daughters, nieces and nephews each caught 10+ fish each.
The Rainbow trout grown in the outdoor raceway, require cold, oxygen-rich water. Eggs are shipped from other facilities to the hatchery throughout the year. Trout eggs hatch and grow in the hatchery buildings. Grown trout are then released into the outdoor ponds for The Fishing Derby. The hatchery also uses them to feed adult sturgeon and aquarium fish.
Once you have a few fish, students stood waiting to gut your fish at the cleaning station.
Kids packed their cleaned fish in ziplock bags, iced coolers and 5 gallon buckets to transport home.
But that was just the beginning of our fun! Soon were were back ready to try the fresh fish. My brother-in-law fried whole trout in butter, salt and pepper until flaky. All the kids were eager to have their own plate and go back for more.
And as if the whole experience didn’t already elicit some pride in how my tax money was spent, my niece read-aloud about the fish she caught today. At bedtime, kids wanted to relive the stories, read through their booklets and make us promise to get on the lake asap.
Gavins Point NFH offers fully guided group tours, fish feeding opportunities, two miles of nature trails and an aquarium featuring 10,000 gallons of display space and many local species of fish, amphibians and reptiles. Check out what you’ve already paid for! And maybe you’ll feel a bit more like my niece does, even on April 15th.