They came to learn how to safely fish.

Although Saturday morning temperatures hovered around 50 degrees, children and their families flocked to an annual fishing event on Saturday at Baker Lake.

“Any kid that comes out is going to have a great time,” said Beth Welbers with Better Fishing Association of Northern Illinois.

The 21st annual Kid’s Fishing Expo was sponsored by the BFA, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Illinois Valley Sunrise Rotary Club and La Salle Rotary Club, in association with the cities of Peru and La Salle and the Peru Rescue Squad.

Volunteers split up into different stations to teach kids different fishing and outdoor topics, like Rick O’Neil with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources showing the kids live turtles they commonly would find around the area.

“I think it’s good for the kids to get out into nature,” O’Neil said — the event is a way to get them interested in the outdoors and become aware of their surroundings. “And I have fun doing it.”

David Wyffels and Ken Clodfelter with IDNR showed live longnose gar, flathead catfish and largemouth bass to teach the kids how to identify the species.

There were other stations teaching the kids how to tie knots, cast a fishing pole and more.

Fred Reutner of Mendota with the BFA cooked up some bluegill, carp, rainbow trout, catfish and crappie — he predicted they’d be serving hundreds of pounds of fish.

Saturday’s event had children participants from as far as Rockford, Streator, Princeton, Mendota, DePue and Granville.

Lunch was served for all youth, and many door prizes were given out.

The next event is June 1 — the 34th annual Lock 14 Kid’s Fishing Tournament.

Ali Braboy can be reached at (815) 220-6931 and countyreporter@newstrib.com. Follow her on Twitter @NT_PutnamCo.

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