Denny Sands hopes to see a huge demand for fishing tackle at his store in Shabbona Lake State Park next weekend.
The park and Shabbona Lakeside Bait, Tackle and Boat Rental will host the Mega Big Fish Contest from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 20 and April 21.
The competition is open to anglers of all ages and skill levels, but Sands said he hopes to see a lot of families from all over the area come out to experience the beauty of the lake and the sport of fishing.
"A lot of people in DeKalb and Sycamore don't realize we're here," he said.
There are eight categories in which participants can weigh their biggest fish in species including walleye, catfish, large- and smallmouth bass, bluegill, crappie and muskie. The winner in each category can choose between a free pontoon rental valued at $190, or a bass boat rental valued at $165 during the 2013 season.
The winning fish will be determined by weight, except the muskie, which will be measured by length.
Sands said the event is more than just a fun weekend activity – it is an opportunity to foster the sport of fishing for future generations.
"The more families we can get involved the better off it is," Sands said. "The kids and grandkids grow up to be fishers and the sport continues."
Another fishing event in which local residents can get their feet wet is the Sycamore Park District's biannual fishing derby from 8 to 11 a.m. April 27 at Lake Sycamore, 400 North Cross St.
The park district's Superintendent of Recreation Bart Desch said the concept is simple, but the experience is always a good time.
"It's really designed to get people out to Lake Sycamore and have some fun with your family," he said.
The event, which is in its seventh year, is broken into two age groups: children under 12 and those 13 and older. The top two winners will be determined based on the length of the fish.
Both events encourage catch-and-release fishing, but if the fish qualifies, participants are allowed to keep them.
Both Sands and Desch said they hope for strong turnouts, but that is contingent upon the weather.
"If it's a nice day, I get more kids and families," Desch said. "[But there will be] hardcore fishers no matter what the weather is because they like fishing."
If you go
What: Mega Big Fish Contest
When: 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 20 and 21
Where: Shabbona Lake State Park
Registration: Lakeside Bait, Tackle and Boat Rental at 4100 Bluebird Lane, $5 donation to Walleye Restocking Fund required
More information: 815-824-2581 or www.shabbonalake.com
What: Spring Fishing Derby
When: 8 to 11 a.m. April 27
Where: Lake Sycamore, 400 North Cross St.
Registration: $4 resident, $5 nonresident
Deadline to register: 9:30 a.m. April 27 (pre-registration preferred)
More information: 815-895-3202 or www.sycamoreparkdistrict.com