As much as Robert Ojeday would have enjoyed reeling in the 21-inch striped-bass Saturday morning, he instead handed the fishing pole over to Anthony White.
Anthony is a third-grader at Miano Elementary School who, along with family and friends, spent the day enjoying the 25th annual Kids’ Fish, Swim and Play day, at the San Luis Creek on the O’Neill Forebay.
The event is hosted by the state Department of Water Resources and California State Parks staff. It provides youngsters, ages 3 to 15, the opportunity to learn how to fish and about water safety and participate in water-related arts and crafts.
Fishing is one of many hobbies the little guy has a knack for, said Natalie White, the boy’s aunt. She was there to give Anthony support, since he does not have a father figure at home.
“My sister and I raise him,” she said. “He loves fishing, but we’re not fishermen, so this is a great thing for him because there are people here to help him.”
Alongside the Whites was Ojeday, 38, and his family, who were attending for the first time.
Ojeday said he has been fishing for years, so he didn’t mind handing his fishing pole over to let Anthony give it a try. As a role model, he said it was the right thing to do.
“I was just glad to be able to come out here and help him,” Ojeday said.
Up at the picnic area, arts and crafts activities were taking place at a number of different stations, and pontoon rides were given to a large crowd.
The nice weather ensured a great turnout, said Jennifer Morgan, organizer with the Department of Water Resources.
“It’s been good,” Morgan said. “I have a lot of people call from Gilroy and Hollister, but it’s always highly weather-dependent.”
Volunteer Traci Sumner, a teacher at San Luis High School, brought about 30 students who manned the art tables and watched over the little ones as they cast their reels and took a dip in the water. Sumner said the students volunteer every year for community service credit.
“This is a great opportunity for the community and for San Luis High School to be seen in the community,” Sumner said. “It’s such a fun event.”
Organizers also designated an area for those interested in just swimming.
Reporter Marina Gaytan can be reached at (209) 826-3831 ext. 6562 or firstname.lastname@example.org.