“I was hoping to catch a fish which I did but I also caught a turtle. I was so excited because they said that was the only turtle ever caught at CAST. Thank you!” said Suzanne.
“I had so much fun and I got to go on my first boat ride. It was a neat day,” Donald remarked. “My captain really taught me how to catch the big ones. I’m going fishing again soon with my new pole. Thank you everyone at CAST,” Robert added.
“I really liked being on the water. Everyone was so nice and the food was yummy!” Christie exclaimed.
“This was my first time, but it was fun!” commented Angel.
These few quotes represent the general feelings of the anglers who participated at the 2016 C.A.S.T. (Catch a Special Thrill) for Kids event on Oct. 22 at Nevada’s Lake Mead Marina.
For most volunteers, the day began at about 7 a.m., but for some it began Friday evening. However, by 8 a.m. on Saturday, novice and not-so-novice anglers began arriving with their families to register and to be outfitted with rods, reels, tackle boxes and personal flotation devices (PFDs).
Any person who fishes will say there are no bad fishing days, but Saturday was an exceptional day — clear skies, a slight breeze and moderate temperatures. This combined with the joint efforts of volunteers from a variety of agencies and organization “. . . resulted in a fun day for all the participants,” observed event coordinator Brandon Barrow, one member of the trio that guided the Planning Committee to conduct such a successful affair. Fellow coordinators included Adrianne Reed and Toyya Mahoney.
“When you looked at our C.A.S.T. event, people were fishing and having fun, and that was our goal,” said Barrow.
As the participants began casting their baited hooks into the water, shouts of “fish on” and “I caught one” could be heard from the pontoon boats where the anglers were fishing, thanks to the courtesy of Lake Mead Marina at Hemenway Harbor. Further, the marina removed the seats from a few boats to ensure there was enough room for wheelchairs, so their users could also feel the sway of the boats as they cast their lines hoping for that “. . . special thrill” of a hooked fish.
By midmorning, many of the anglers were sporting stamped images of fish on their arms, indicating the number of fish they had hooked. At the same time, several agencies hosted information and “touch” tables at the event. Positioned within close proximity of the fishing pontoons, the tables allowed family members to learn about various local outdoor recreation opportunities, while they viewed their anglers, “. . . trying to catch another one.”
Overseeing the morning’s activities with Barrow, Reed and Mahoney, were Reclamation Deputy Commissioner David Palumbo, Special Assistant Jessica Munoz from Reclamation’s External and Intergovernmental Affairs, and Lower Colorado Region Deputy Director Jaci Gould. For these three people, C.A.S.T. for Kids was nothing new. Palumbo had previously been very active in the Lower Colorado Region’s event, Munoz had visited other Regions’ events and Gould had participated, as well, in many events in her previous Reclamation jobs.
Soon the sun was approaching its midday position and whether the anglers stood, sat in wheelchairs or were unable to even see their catches, the fishing had been good, but it ended with their relocation to the patio deck for lunch. This was provided through a generous donation from Hotel Manager Renee Repelt of the Railroad Pass Hotel and Casino, and prepared by Lake Mead Marina staff members under the direction of Marina Supervisor Erin Charlesworth.
As everyone gathered for lunch, Barrow greeted and welcomed the participants and their families, and recognized Keith Ferlanie and Monica Neshat of the the Nevada Bass Anglers Club and long-time participant parent Sue Stoddard. Following lunch, Barrow introduced Superintendent Lizette Richardson from the National Park Service’s Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
“I am glad to be here today to see all of your smiling faces and to see all of these wonderful partners come together to host this C.A.S.T for Kids event,” she said, then added, “Lake Mead is continuously working to create accessible experiences within the park so that everyone can enjoy the beauty of Lake Mead.”
Noting that this year marked the 25th anniversary of C.A.S.T for Kids, she also informed the attendees that “. . . this year marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service . . . [we] are excited to help provide the venue for another successful C.A.S.T for Kids event here at Lake Mead. I hope each and every one of you takes away from this experience a joy for the great outdoors.”
“I would like to thank all of the amazing partners and volunteers who made this day possible,” she concluded. “We value the relationship we have with the Bureau of Reclamation and our concession partners at Lake Mead Marina. Without you this event would not be as successful as it is and I am looking forward to hosting it at Lake Mead again next year.”
“It’s great to be back!” Deputy Commissioner Palumbo declared as he began his remarks. Extending a thank you to the National Park Service for their partnership in supporting C.A.S.T. for Kids, he stated that this year, “. . . 77 volunteers joined together to make a fun day for 33 participants.” Recalling his days in the Lower Colorado Region, Palumbo continued by saying how much he enjoyed the C.A.S.T for Kids events and thanked those who had given their time to be volunteers.
Brandon then introduced Jim Behnken, Western Program Director for the C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation. Stating that he was “. . . happy to be here,” he also extended gratitude to the volunteers and to the families of the participants for “. . . bringing them to our event.” “The equipment is yours to keep and we encourage you to keep enjoying the outdoors as a family,” he said.