Bob Vanek smiles after catching a 20-inch sucker on Wednesday during the Big Fishing Derby at Flatiron Reservoir west of Loveland. Rick Jules of the Loveland Fishing Club, left, helps Vanek catch fish. (Jenny Sparks/Loveland Reporter-Herald)

The Loveland Fishing Club’s Big Game Derby returned to Flatiron Reservoir Wednesday morning, providing a day of fishing for locals who are physically unable to get out and easily enjoy the entertainment on their own.

Charles “Sam” Blanks, 97, gets a little help choosing his line from Carolyn Hampsey, Brookdale North’s activities coordinator, on Wednesday while fishing off the pier during the Big Fishing Derby at Flatiron Reservoir west of Loveland. (Jenny Sparks/Loveland Reporter-Herald)

The event began more than a decade ago in 2011, with event chairwoman Vicki Tesar saying it was started by seniors.

“They decided to make it for people in nursing care facilities because some of their friends were going there and they knew what it meant to them to get out and be by a lake or a river and go fishing,” she said.

Throughout the morning and into the early afternoon, seniors enjoyed sitting by the water, throwing lines, chatting with each other and enjoying some hot dogs.

Danny Parker, vice president of the club, said that the event is supervised by volunteers from the hunting club to help other hunting enthusiasts go out and enjoy the entertainment, adding that it is “for seniors.”

“Getting out is what we’re all about,” Tesar said as she walked through the campgrounds on Wednesday.

Many residents and staff at the various facilities shared this sentiment, saying it was a great time to get out and enjoy a beautiful day.

Brookdale North Loveland resident Charles “Sam” Blanks said he’s happy to come out to a place like Flatiron.

“It helps to get out and drive,” he said. “I don’t care if you catch a fish or not.”

“I think it’s cute,” said Bill Williams, a resident of Hillcrest in Loveland, as his line stretched into the water as he enjoyed a fresh hot dog.

Carolyn Hampsey, activities coordinator at Brookdale North Loveland, said the event is a great way for seniors to experience nature and feel rejuvenated. She also said it’s a great way for residents to feel “what these people have in common with each other.”

Jenny Walker, marketing manager at Brookdale North Loveland, spent part of her time at the Flatiron chatting with resident Carolynn Callantine, saying she was “invaluable.”

“It was fun,” she said.

Calantine said she loves being outside and said she spent the morning enjoying the weather with a friend.

“How can you beat him?” she added.

Although fishing was not frequent this year, a number of anglers were able to catch a fish. This included Bob Vanek, a resident of Brookdale in Marianna Butte, who caught a 20-inch sucker while sitting on the dock.

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” he said.

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