By Jacob Mathias
Local law enforcement are joining forces this Saturday for the 7th annual Cops and Bobbers; a day of free fishing where local children can fish alongside the cops and get “hooked” on fishing rather than drugs or violence.
“We’re not just here for negative reasons. We’re not just a walking consequence,” said Plover Police Department Community Service Officer Seth Pionke. “We’re also a positive influence. We’re approachable. We just want to be out there with the public to let them know that we care.”
“Law enforcement has kind of been under the gun with the public and being scrutinized so much. It’s just a way to a positive interaction with law enforcement,” said Portage County Sheriff’s Deputy Eric Koepsell who has organized the event with Pionke since 2008.
Cops and Bobbers registration begins at 8:30 AM on Saturday, June 6 in Bukolt Park. The Department of Natural Resources will start the day teaching children about boating and fishing safety. The fishing itself is held in the ponds next to the skate park.
Fishing poles and bait will be available at no charge.
Pionke said 90 children have been registered for Cops and Bobbers but he estimates there will probably be almost 115 as some children show up the day of the event. When you add in parents, there could be almost 250 attendees.
“We have them come with their parents,” said Koepsell. “We wanted to have that bond with the parents and the kids. There’s a lot of parents out there, their kids want to go fishing but they really don’t know how to start or where to go.”
“The whole thing is designed to get adults and kids together,” said Pionke. “Maybe they don’t normally fish or they want to try fishing or they’re not sure…that way they can come out and don’t have spend money…they can come out and try it.”
Fishing runs from 9 AM to 11 AM and each fishermen can submit two fish to be weighed for a prize at the end of the day.
Lunch begins at 11 AM and afterward door prizes will be awarded as well as a grand prize to the fisherman whose two fish weighed the most.
Lunch is sponsored and prepared by the Elks Club Lodge 641. The lodge also gave a $2,000 grant to support the event.
Cops and Bobbers t-shirts and towels are given to those who registered ahead of time and extras will be available on a first come, first serve basis for those who aren’t registered.
Local law enforcement also works with area children through events such as Lunch with a Cop and Shop with a Cop. Depending on fund availability, Pionke said there may also be a Pack to School program where law enforcement helps select children get new clothing and school supplies for the school year.
For questions on Cops and Bobbers, call the Portage County Sheriff’s office non emergency number at 715-346-1400.