Police hook up kids with poles, tackle – and maybe fish

Local kids go home with a pole and a tackle box after fishing last year with law enforcement officers from around Malheur County. (Photo courtesy Malheur County Sheriff’s Office)

The odds have gone up that kids fishing with a local cop this week will go home with a fish.

The 10th annual Fish with A Cop event is being held this week at Owyhee Reservoir, pairing up 50 local youth with police officers.

The kids, ranging in age from 9 to 14, have been selected through the Boys and Girls Club of Western Treasure Valley. Additionally, the Malheur County Sheriff’s Office, the Nyssa Police Department, and the Malheur County Juvenile Department each selected five kids to go fishing for the day. The Ontario Police Department and Snake River Correctional Institution also participate.

The goal is to build relations between the kids and local police officers.

“Some of these kids don’t always see law enforcement in a positive light,” said Travis Johnson, Malheur County undersheriff.

The Boys and Girls Club will bus the kids to the lake, where they will then be matched two or three a time with a law enforcement officer. They’ll get coached on how to fish and get team on the bank and in a boat. Most of the kids will have never held a fishing pole before, Johnson said.

He said the state Department of Fish and Wildlife this year will set up a portable pond, stocked with catchable trout.

Johnson said volunteers would help clean any fish caught, pack them in ice and send them home with the young fishermen. He said the kids are eager to take their catch home.

“They get so excited,” he said.

The kids also get to take home their poles, tackle boxes, and hats, provided by VFW Post 5452.

Volunteers from Elks Lodge 1690 will cook up hamburgers and hotdogs for lunch.

Donors contributed items and money to run the program. Among the donors was Kendall Hawley, who recently graduated from Vale High School. As part of her senior project, she hosted a fly fishing class last fall, charging a small fee. She subsequently donated $370 for Fish With a Cop.