Fifth-grader Kepa Bengochea loves going fly fishing with her grandfather Steve Swecker. She remembers fishing next to a huge tree on one such trip. Throughout the day, she would sit and lean against the tree.
So, when her fifth grade class at French Ford Middle School in Winnemucca began drawing their entries for this year’s Free Fishing Day poster contest, she incorporated that tree into her drawing.
Apparently the judges at the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) loved the tree as well, as Bengochea’s entry was selected as the winner of the 2011 Free Fishing Day poster contest. Her drawing will be featured on the 2011 poster promoting Free Fishing Day in Nevada and will also be on the 2012-13 Nevada Fishing Guide magazine. As the winner, she will receive a framed copy of her artwork and a fishing rod and reel. She and her family also will be treated to a guided fishing outing.
“When I told her that she had won, her eyes were as big as saucers and she gave a ‘Whoopee!’” said Mary Kay Pace, Bengochea’s teacher. “She was extremely happy to say the least.”
Pace was excited as well.
“This is the first time that a student from my class has won a statewide poster contest so I felt ecstatic,” she said. “My students had practically worked their fingers to the bone trying to finish the posters on time. This made it all the more exciting to have a state winner.”
When asked what she liked about fishing, Bengochea said she liked getting to spend time with her grandpa. He taught her to fly fish and it is still the only type of fishing that she knows. She also listed her love of the outdoors and the excitement of catching a fish.
This year’s theme for the Nevada Free Fishing Day Poster Contest, an annual art contest for the Silver State’s fourth and fifth graders sponsored by NDOW, was “Fish On!” A record 473 entrants from 61 classrooms statewide participated in this year’s contest.
Free Fishing Day takes place on June 11 this year. The statewide event allows anglers to fish any public fishing water in the state without a fishing license or trout stamp, while all limits and other regulations apply. Visit www.ndow.org to find out more about Free Fishing Day events taking place locally.
The two runners-up entries were sent in by fifth-graders Brennan Cecil from Jessie Beck Elementary in Reno, and Eli Romero from Piñon Hills Elementary in Minden. They each will receive a rod and reel and their artwork will be shown on the outside back cover of the 2012-13 Nevada Fishing Guide.
Romero placing in the top three continues an impressive run of success for Piñon Hills Elementary. In the past four years the Minden-area school has placed five of its students in the top three, including first place finishes in both 2008 and 2009.
For more information, visit www.ndow.org.