For six years, Medford's Dave Nadler was a one-man show. He created a free spring-break fishing derby at Lost Creek Lake and used it as a way to get kids to put down the Xbox and pick up a fishing rod.
But the founding and sole member of the International Trouters Society took a hiatus last March after he underwent surgery to fix chronic problems in his neck vertebrae.
A year later, he continues to suffer from near-paralysis in his arms, which has him dropping almost everything he handles.
"I don't have the strength to put up the flags, set up the tables or even weigh the fish," says Nadler, 52. "I basically have no arms.
"My life has been fishing and doing this for the kids, and not being able to do this has crushed me," he says.
But Nadler doesn't want to drop the ball for the 100 or so kids who entered his derby each year.
He's looking for a fishing or service group — even a lone crusader like himself — to take over the derby so it remains a spring respite for kids looking for a real outdoor experience.
"I'll give them the tables, the reader boards and I'll help them any way I can," Nadler says. "I just can't do it. I can't delegate 99 percent of it and sit there in a lawn chair at the derby. That won't work for me."
Anyone interested in discussing the nuances of taking over the derby can call Nadler at 541-245-0568.
If somebody doesn't step up, there will be no organized spring-break derby in the Rogue Valley.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife began its own spring break fishing event in 2004 at Whetstone Pond on the Denman Wildlife Area. But the agency dropped it in 2006 after poor catches of rainbow trout stocked at the White City pond just for the event, says Dan VanDyke, the ODFW's Rogue District fish biologist.
Several local waterways, however, will be stocked with fresh, legal-sized trout the week before spring break, which runs March 22-29 in Medford.
That week, Lost Creek Reservoir is set to get 25,000 legal rainbows, while Emigrant Reservoir is set to receive 3,500 legals and Willow Lake will get 4,750 legals.
Also stocked that week will be 1,400 legals in Reinhart Pond in Grants Pass, and another 1,400 legals in Expo Pond.
Lake Selmac near Selma is scheduled to be stocked this week with 5,000 legal-sized rainbow trout. It is set to get another 5,000 legals the week before spring break.
Nadler's derby is called the Spring Break 16 Over/Under Derby, and it targets kids under 16 years old who can catch a trout over 16 inches long, with a grand prize for the first qualifying fish and five other prizes on a first-come, first-win basis.
He has spent the winter soliciting and collecting the prizes from local businesses.
On derby day, which is always the first Saturday of the break, he has set up a weigh station at the Takelma boat ramp near Lost Creek dam off Highway 62 near Trail. There, kids preregistered and fished anywhere on the lake with any legal method.
Families brought lunch and it turned into a large community picnic centered around kids catching trout.
"My goal always was to get at least 100 kids out fishing and playing, and that's what we were doing," Nadler says. "The kids really liked it. I hope some one steps up and keeps it going."