The weather was perfect. The fishes were biting and for the over 300 people who attended the annual Fishing For Smiles event at the Dunton ranch, it was a great day to be in the great outdoors.
For the past three years, the Kingman Elks Lodge, #468, the Mohave Sportsman Club and the Arizona Game & Fish Department have put on what many believe is the best fishing event for kids in Mohave County.
This year's event was supposed to be held at Scott and Carrie Fisher's Yellow Pine Ranch in the Hualapai Mountains, but due to a leak in the dam, there wasn't enough water in the pond to make the event possible.
But then entered the Dunton family. These local businessmen stepped up and rebuilt a pre-existing pond on their ranch east of Kingman just to host the event.
Due to the diligent efforts of the Elks Lodge and with the help of local businessmen Greg Holden, Bob Kay, Jerry Grimes along with the Region III office of the Arizona G&F Dept., a full contingent of kids were ready to give it their best at the kids fishing event.
With everything set to go, anglers and their parents and guardians headed out to the ranch.
Participants were met by volunteers from the Mohave County Sheriff's Office who assisted with traffic control and parking.
Wally Mueller and members of the Mohave Juniors Bass Club were on hand to assist the younger kids.
Johnny Hoeft handled the job of compiling all of the data of participants, and was the onsite official weigh master.
MSC member Joe Herrero along with Scotty Dunton cleaned over 250 catfish during the event.
Members of the Kingman Hunter Education team were on site, as were the producer and cameraman from local channel 57, who filmed the event for an upcoming segment of Back At Camp, a local outdoors program.
When it ended, the kids had caught over 300 catfish, with many bagging a three-fish limit in short order.
For those anglers who were lucky enough to catch exceptional fish or stringers, there were trophies that were handed out by Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan.
Winners in the juniors division included 7-year-old Kyle Sena, who caught the largest catfish of the event, a lunker that weighed 4.3 pounds. Sena also had the heaviest three-fish stringer of the event, with a total weight of 9.35 pounds.
Jared Fasthorse had the second big fish in the juniors division that weighed 2.75 pounds, along with the second heaviest stringer, which weighed 5.95 pounds.
In the senior division, the biggest fish was caught by 13-year-old Gabby Sumner. That fish weighed 3.85 pounds. Hallie Powell had the second heaviest catfish, a lunker that weighed 3.65 pounds.
Gabby Sumner won the heaviest stringer in the senior division. Her three fish weighed 6.41 pounds, narrowly edging out Hallie Powell who took second heaviest stringer honors with 6.30 pounds.
In the Kasting Kids contest, 12-year-old Joey Martin Jr. took first place in the senior division, while Van Butler took second.
Nine-year-old Michael Eads took first place while 8-year-old Rachael Cudney took second in the junior division.
The Elks, AZ G&F and the MSC are already working on next year's event, and the Duntons have promised to build a second pond.