MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP - As the school year comes to a close, it seems that summer is here and with it the opportunity to enjoy local parks and ponds.
Meridian Township hosted their annual Meridian Fishing Derby, a free event open to all ages located at the Historical Village Pond.
"Taking advantage of local recreation areas is the goal of the derby," says Mark Stephens, a member of Meridian Township's Park Commission.
"Today is just people getting out there, enjoying the weather and trying to catch some fish and knowing about different things that are in the community," Stephens said.
The date of the derby was not random. June 10 and 11 are part of Michigan DNR's free fishing weekend, which means no license is required to grab a pole, some bait, and see what you can catch.
Volunteers and interns such as Jill Gasche, an intern for the Meridian Township Parks and Recreation Department, helped adults and children learn how to cast, catch and release fish.
"Seeing people come out, never fishing before, and catching fish is really cool because, for me, it's been second nature," Gasche said. "Seeing other people learn how to do it has been really fun."
There was a competition for anyone 17 and under, which included prizes such as fishing poles, tackle boxes and certificates for the first catch of the day, the smallest fish, the largest fish, and the most fish caught.
Fishing was not the only activity at the derby. Everyone had the opportunity to paint a shed on the edge of the pond that will eventually house rods and reels for the public to borrow.
"Just take care of them and put them back," Stephens said. "If you have trouble and you break one, you tell the parks office and they'll take care of it."
In addition to fishing, painting and prizes, there was an educational opportunity to look at macro-invertebrates that live in local ponds and lakes. Stephen says it is important for people to see and touch the fish, along with educating themselves about what is in the water so they can learn how to take care it.
"My role in life is to teach people that kind of thing, there's something special about it," Stephens said.
Michigan DNR's free fishing weekend only lasts until June 11. Anyone 17 years or older will need to acquire a license to fish after this date.