Windermere is most famous for its lakes, but on Saturday, Oct. 23, its fish will bring the community together. Windermere Police Foundation’s Cops & Bobbers event will use rods and reels to strengthen the ties between residents and their police department while providing a day of family fun after more than a year of COVID restrictions and event cancelations.
“The first event was in 2019 and last year, of course, nobody did anything,” Windermere Police Chief Dave Ogden said. “It’s just a really good time for us to get together with the kids and show some camaraderie.”
The foundation is dedicated to fostering communication and positive relationships through community involvement that includes the National Night Out food truck event and bunk-bed builds — which enlists local volunteers to build beds for families in need.
Cops & Bobbers applicants are divided into three age categories: 3- to 5-year-olds, 6- to 10-year-olds and 11- to 17-year-olds. Officers help with baiting, casting and reeling in the catch, which is then released. But according to Ogden, even older anglers sometimes need a hand.
“We kind of cheat a little bit; we have some professional bass fishermen come in to support us,” he said.
Professional support will come from event sponsor Get Hooked Bait and Tackle.
“The 3- to 5-year-olds will be on the dock and fishing with our volunteers and the officers,” Get Hooked Bait and Tackle owner Captain Tim Bagwell said. “The 6- to 17-year-olds — if they get signed up early — will have a chance to go out on a boat.”
The expected turnout for this year’s event is between 60 and 100 participants. However, the call has been put out for volunteers willing to bring their boats and host some fishing tours.
“I’d like for the kids to get out for about an hour, but if we’re limited on the number of volunteers bringing boats, we may have to limit it to 15 minutes,” Bagwell said. “The maximum we can put on each boat is about three kids, so we may have to limit the amount of time that they’re able to stay out on the water."