Sterling Sportsmen Association to hold kids sucker tournament


STERLING — The Sterling Sportsmen Association’s 12th annual kids sucker tournament will take place on April 21 along the Rifle River near the group’s clubhouse.

According to organizer Todd Switala, it had been tentatively planned two weeks earlier, but weather conditions made him decide to push it back.

“I’ve been checking the water temperature here and there, and I talked to some guys down in Omer by the (US-23) bridge, and they’re catching one or two suckers but no big runs yet,” Switala said. “They’re predicting the next couple weeks will be below normal temperatures, so I feel the 21st should work out nicely.”

He said the exact times have not been decided yet, but typically it runs from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. With good weather, Switala said they could see around 300 kids lining the riverbanks, trying to catch some suckers.

Landowners around the Sterling Sportsmen Clubhouse, including White’s Canoe Livery and Outdoor Adventures, have given Switala permission to let kids fish along the riverbanks for the tournament, and he said there should be about two miles on either side of the Rifle River where kids can fish. He will be providing the kids with a map showing where they are allowed to set up their poles.

When children are done fishing, they can bring up to five suckers to be weighed in, and after that they can claim a prize. Every kid who participates is eligible to get a prize, though Switala said they need to get past a trivia question first.

“I try to make it educational,” he said. “Before I go passing out prizes, I’ll ask trivia questions, like how many stomachs a worm has, or how many species of sucker are there.”

The kids get to pick a prize, which range from fishing charter trips to dollar store soccer balls, Switala said, ideally without input from anyone else.

The only other rules, he said, are that all fishing must be done around the club — people cannot just leave and come back — and the kids should be the ones holding the fishing pole unless they are too young to handle it themselves.

The whole event is free to participate, as it has been funded by cash and prize donations by businesses, local residents, and club members. Kids will need to bring their own fishing gear, but the club will provide hot dogs and drinks for them.

“The main goal is to get people out fishing,” Switala said. “I want to get the whole family out on the riverbank and spend the day fishing.”

After running the event for 12 years, however, Switala said he is ready to pass the torch to someone else who understands how important the event is to the Sterling community.

“I’m not going to give it away to any Joe Blow,” he said. “There’s a lot involved, but I feel, and the club’s board feels, that the kids sucker tournament — that’s the big thing in our community. I’m getting people calling all the time every day asking when is it and what are we going to do.”


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