Shriners are casting for dollars to send kids to the circus

05/01/2014 5:45 PM

05/02/2014 11:29 PM

Here’s a pop quiz for you.

Question: What do the Shriners, a circus and a bass tournament have in common?

Answer: The Shriners Open Buddy Bass Classic, one of the largest fishing tournaments in Missouri.

For 27 years, the Shriners have used the bass tournament as a fundraiser to send underprivileged, disabled and other school-age children to the Shriners Circus. Using proceeds from the bass tournament, the Shriners buy out the Friday performance of the circus, then give free tickets to thousands of kids.

The idea was born when the Ararat Mounted Guard, a division within the Shrine, performed its precision drills as a part of a county fair and saw how much children enjoyed it. Members thought the children might enjoy a circus even more, so they organized an annual special performance of the Shriner Circus.

That concept proved to be hugely popular over the years. The tournament has attracted more than 200 boats of fishermen some years. Organizers are hoping to reach that mark this year when the Shriners Bass Classic is held from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at Truman Lake.

The big lure? A first-place prize of a fully-rigged Nitro Z bass boat valued at $28,350.

Entries are still being accepted. Call Jack Everly at 816-217-7292 to register.

Trout parks lure kids

Youngsters ages 15 and under will be featured guests at Missouri’s trout parks this month.

During Kids Fishing Day at Bennett Spring, Roaring River, Montauk and Maramec Spring parks, children will receive free trout tags and will be able to fish in a section of stream specially stocked and open only to youth anglers The celebration also will include seminars, displays, drawings and a free lunch.

The special event will be from 6:30 a.m. to 8:15 p.m. at all of the parks. Kids Fishing Day will be Saturday at Bennett Spring and Montauk, and May 17 at Roaring River and Maramec Spring.

Adults can accompany children and provide help, but cannot fish themselves in the special zone. Youths are encouraged to bring their own fishing equipment. Volunteers will help children with their fishing.

More kids stuff

Kansas City-area children will cast for prizes and trophies Saturday in the Kids Fish’n Derby at the Cabela’s in Kansas City, Kan.

There will, be competition in four age groups: 3-5, 6-8, 9-11 and 12-15. Registration will begin at 9 a.m. Fishing will take place in three time slots, starting at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and noon. A maximum of 75 children can fish in each session.

The event, which will be sponsored by the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, will be free. Bait will be provided.

Derby registration

Organizers of one of the largest kids fishing derbies in the metro area are gearing up for another big year.

Registrations for the 33rd annual Olathe Kids Free Fishing Derby are now being accepted. The event is open to the first 700 who sign up.

The event will be June 14 at Cedar Lake Park, located at 15500 Lone Elm Road, in southwest Olathe.

Though the event features fishing for youngsters ages 3 to 15, folks 60 and older also can compete.

Trophies will be given out to anglers who reel in big fish in various age divisions and gender categories. Giveaways, drawings and a free lunch will be included.

Check-in for the derby will be 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., with the fishing to follow.

To register, go to the Olathe Parks and Recreation website at http://www.olatheks.org/ParksRec/Fishing.

A marathon swim

A young paddlefish apparently had the urge to travel.

Riley Hill of Buckner, Mo., caught the 21-pound fish March 21 while snagging on the Missouri River near Levasy. When he noticed the fish had a tag, he checked with fisheries officials and discovered that his fish had traveled some 800 to 900 miles through a maze of waterways before it was caught.

The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks caught the fish March 21, 2013, tagged it and released it in Moon Lake, Mississippi. The fish then apparently traveled south through canals and rivers until it reached the Mississippi River in that state.

It then ventured north on the Mississippi until it reached St. Louis, then took a left into the Missouri River and made its west before it was snagged.

Big bass at Smithville

This already has been a spring to remember at Smithville Lake.

Big bass are showing up in unprecedented numbers.

“Last year, we only a few fish over 7 pounds weighed in in our tournaments,” said Gary Burton, who runs a bass-tournament circuit on the lake and also owns a bait and tackle shop in Smithville. “This year, we’ve we’ve already had three bass over 8 pounds and another eight in the 7-pound range.

“We haven’t seen anything like this in quite a while.”

Why the sudden upturn in big-bass numbers? It might have to do with a thriving shad population, which is keeping bass well-fed and is fostering good growth rates.

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