It's been nearly a quarter of a century since Wally Laumeyer took over the Kiwanis Club's Fishing Derby, a free affair for youngsters aged 5-15 that puts a rod and reel in their hands and sets them loose to see what they can catch over three hours at the Yacht Club pier.
Laumeyer has seen thousands of kids come and go, some returning later with their own children, others come back to give him a hand.
Laumeyer's mission is always the same - give kids a chance to experience the joys of fishing, and to maybe inspire them along the way.
Breeze File Photo
Fishing Derby participants line the Cape Coral Yacht Club pier.
"If we can keep just one of these kids from getting into trouble, it's worth it," Laumeyer added
The fishing derby, now entering its 23rd year, is limited to 400 kids, who Laumeyer said will start lining up before dawn to take part.
The free kid's fishing derby is Saturday, April 2, at the Yacht Club Fishing Pier, from 8:30-11:30 a.m. Kids are expected to start lining up for the fishing derby at 7:30 a.m., according to Laumeyer.
Who: Cape Coral Kiwanis Club
What: Fishing Derby
Where: Cape Coral Yacht Club
When: Saturday, April 2, 8:30 - 11:30 am
Each youngster is given his or her own free rod and reel, which they can take home, and will hopefully use to keep fishing.
Prizes are awarded to the children who catch the biggest and the smallest fish, and 15 bicycles are given away, free, through a raffle.
Originally from Minnesota, Laumeyer said fishing has always been a part of his life, and it's difficult for him to imagine a kid not having the opportunity to cast a line.
Laumeyer said he's met kids who live in the Cape that have never tried fishing, a fact that seems nearly incomprehensible to the longtime angler.
"The main thing is to just get the kids out there and get them fishing," he added.
It takes a lot of time and hard work on Laumeyer's part to make the fishing derby a reality.
Originally, the derby was just a handful of kids sharing rods and reels, but as the years passed the event grew in popularity and so did the event itself, as hundreds of youngsters pack the pier to try and catch a fish.
Although he has 30 or so volunteers helping out during the derby, Laumeyer is a essentially a one-man show when it comes to putting the proceedings together.
He started September of last year in order to put this year's derby together. The work takes its toll on Laumeyer, who hopes that someone else will one day take up the mantle and carry the fishing derby along through future generations.
"I'm going on 80. It;s time to start slowing down," Laumeyer said. "It's not the easiest thing."
For more information, call Laumeyer at 772-8678.