Nearly a dozen children spent a sunny and warm Saturday morning outside with fishing poles and bright yellow plastic bags in hand.

They were ready to fish. And no matter how small the catch, they happily put the fish in the yellow bag filled with water and ran to the weigh-in station.

It's a typical scene the first Saturday in August at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Cross Lake Recreation Area. That's when the corps hosts it annual Kids Fishing Derby.

"I like fishing. It's fun to do this because you get to learn stuff and you get to do it yourself," said Elizabeth Martin, 12, who ran several fish from the dock to the scales. "It's really nice that they do prizes because it makes everyone feel happy. Plus I'm happy because I caught fish."

Most participants were camping, but the program is open to residents and other tourists as well. Martin was camping with her family and has participated in the fishing derby in previous years.

Park Ranger Angela Erskine was in charge of the group that first gathered near the Pine River dam. The event is designed to teach such topics as water safety, life jacket safety and environmental awareness. The youth looked at a boat on a trailer that was set up with zebra mussels and Eurasion water milfoil to learn about aquatic invasive species and the steps needed to avoid spreading AIS to other bodies of water.

Erskine talked about the Linda Ulland Memorial Garden at the recreation area, and she shared the history of the Pine River dam and how the dam works before taking the group to the gates that control the water traveling through the dam.

"This is a public event for anyone. We like to push some of our mission," Erskine said.

Local businesses donate prizes and lunch for all Kids Fishing Derby participants.