The Menominee-Marinette area is blessed with a multiple of fine fishing grounds. A jumbo-sized bay, rivers and streams have been attracting fishermen to the area for decades. Huge improvements to facilities in recent years, an aggressive marketing campaign and word-of-mouth has helped lure fishermen to our area for major tournaments.

Perhaps the finest of them all, however, is the one staged the first week in June each year and is called the “Heads Up Fishing Derby.” It is hosted by the M&M Great Lakes Sport Fishermen, an organization that has done wonders over the years when it comes to promoting and enhancing the sport in our communities. This event isn’t held on a river, bay or stream. It’s held at a private pond at the Travis Reidell property in Menominee Township. The Knights of Columbus also is a major supporter of the program. Other organizations and supporters pitch in to help provide food, refreshments and volunteers.

What makes this fishing expedition so powerful is that it is for people with disabilities. It provides the participants an opportunity to go fishing and to win prizes. Gail Clark, derby chairman and a battery of volunteers make sure all the needs of the anxious fishermen are covered. Some may need assistance baiting their hooks and casting their lines. You would be surprised at the number of participants who are determined to get their lines in the water without help.

Clark said the derby is intended to give individuals of all ages and with different physical disabilities an opportunity to test their luck and skill at “wetting their lines.” The Reidell pond is a perfect setup for the event.

“I just love seeing all these people being able to fish and enjoy the outdoors,” said Reidell. The derby has been at the Reidell pond for the past 14 years. The derby is 24 years old.

The many volunteers involved in the derby contribute their services in the true spirit and meaning of altruism.

We salute the organizers, participants, sponsors, volunteers and anyone else who extended a helping hand to this worthy event. It’s easy to understand why so many people are looking forward to the 25th derby — silver anniversary — the first week in June of 2020.