Catching fish and sunshine with friends at Lacamas Lake

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The sun was shining, the fish were biting and the kids were smiling.

A total of 21 special needs students from Liberty Middle School caught their limit of five fish Friday, during the 2011 Camas Moose Lodge fishing derby at Lacamas Lake.

“The kids get so excited,” said event organizer Bobbi Bryson. “First, they don’t want to touch the fish. Then, they touch it and they scream. And then, they can’t let go of it.”

The Evergreen Fish Hatchery in Vancouver donated 500 fish to the Moose Lodge for the event. Volunteers from the lodge planted the fish, provided fishing bait, helped the kids cast out, cleaned their fish and cooked a barbecue for all the kids afterwards.

“We couldn’t do this without the Moose members who volunteer to come out and help,” Bryson said. “They look forward to this every year.”

Bryson said she started the fishing derby about seven or eight years ago, when she taught at Skyridge Middle School. She has kept the tradition going strong since she moved over to Liberty.

As a special treat this year, the kids wore fishing derby shirts that said “In Memory of Richard Hancock.”

“Richard Hancock always handled the fish,” Bryson said. “He passed away this year, so we dedicated this day to him.”