The fish were biting, and several of the 70 children at June 24 fishing extravaganza hosted by the Hannibal Elks Lodge were fishing for the first time.

The fish were biting, and several of the 70 children at June 24 fishing extravaganza hosted by the Hannibal Elks Lodge were fishing for the first time.

Children ages 2 to 15 caught a total of 176 fish between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the winners received trophies, according to Jennifer Foster, Hannibal Elks exalted ruler, who coordinated this annual event at Lake Hannibal.

Each fish caught was brought to a table to be measured by Linda Lockey, then the fishhook was clipped out and the fish was thrown back into the lake.

Live worms were provided for bait, and some children were also using pieces of hot dogs, left from their free lunches. This also proved successful.

Trophies were awarded for the most fish caught, biggest fish and smallest fish in each of four age divisions.

Coincidentally, the ages 6 to 9 winners also had held the record for each category.

Winners were:

• Ages 2 to 5, most caught – Ethan Brand, 6; biggest fish - Ethan Brand, 14.5 inches; smallest fish – Mahailey Watkins, 6.5 inches.

• Ages 6 to 9, most caught – Kyle Locke, 15; biggest – Marrissa Hayes – 16.5 inches; smallest – Amara Coffey, 5 and 5/8 inches.

• Ages 10 to 13, most caught – Logan Skiles, 8; biggest – Alex Toalson, 13.25 inches; smallest – Kadence Hawn, 6.75.

• Ages 14 and 15, most caught - 6; biggest, Mathew Gerding, 12 inches; smallest - Corbin Dorris, 7.25 inches.

Foster explained that before the children began fishing, they heard some water safety advice from Chris Cox of the Missouri Department of Conservation. He taught them about fishing, not littering and how to prevent drowning, she said. He explained how to use a floatation device, such as a cooler, tire or fishing pole.

Lake Hannibal was an ideal place to have the fishing event, Foster said, because it is handicap accessible.

“We applied for a Beacon grant (to finance the fishing extravaganza) to give back to the community,” Foster continued. “We got the grant.

“All the kids who registered got free fishing poles to take home,” she said, along with being provided bait and lunch, including pulled pork sandwiches, all day.

Foster said she enjoys having the Elks do the fishing extravaganza, “because a lot of parents don't have a chance to take kids fishing. It's a great opportunity for them.”

For more pictures, see the photo gallery.

Reach reporter Bev Darr at bev.darr@courierpost.com.