Davenport Resident Bob Guhlke Brings Joy to Local Children

by Cassie Nixon

About 8 years ago, Bob was standing outside of the accounting office in Davenport and overheard a few young boys debating on whether to continue fishing in the creek or head for home. One boy in exasperation exclaimed “There’s no fish in this creek anyway!” Bob recounted his own boyhood fishing in the creek with his brothers and friends and wondered what he could do to make it more enjoyable for these young boys. He decided that more fish in the creek would accomplish that. After all, he knew how much it meant to him and his brothers – they would walk the two miles into to town to be able to fish in the creek rather than wait until evening to catch a ride with his dad. 

Bob got the ball rolling quickly. He approached the Department of Fish and Wildlife and, after several attempts, was granted permission to purchase and stock 200 fish in the creek in Davenport after learning that the only fish that were deposited in the town’s creek were any leftover after the surrounding major lakes were stocked to capacity. 

Bob discovered that stocking fish was more expensive than he realized and petitioned to the community for help. The folks at Parks Print graciously offered ad space to ask the townspeople for donations, and a few did step up to help. This left Bob funding most of the costs for the first few years though. 

Over time, his idea caught traction and he gained more support of individuals and businesses each year since then. He was approached by Dawn Canfield, Davenport’s Pioneer Days chairman, in 2016 about an idea to correlate the stocking of the creek with Pioneer Days so that a Children’s Fishing Derby could be hosted for the local children to participate in. The first year brought in about 10-15 kids, and each year since has doubled its entries from the year before, making a count of 56 kids participating last year. In addition to the Fishing Derby, Bob noticed a group of about 10-15 youth fishing on their own for the enjoyment of the sport. 

Bob realized that the fishing limit of 2 fish per person and the numbers of kids fishing last summer would quickly deplete the supply of fish currently stocked. The concerns of fish overtaking the ecosystem were not a threat at those numbers, so he once again approached the Department of Fish and Wildlife and got in touch with the right person to be granted permission to stock a record breaking 500 fish for this year’s Pioneer Days Fishing Derby. With the generous support of locals and former residents, the Davenport Lion’s Club, and Avista Utilities, Bob is now able to make the purchase of roughly $2300 in trout for the children of Davenport.

In addition to the generosity of financial contributors, other businesses have stepped up to make Pioneer Day’s Fishing Derby an even greater success: AgLink provides the worms for the Derby and Davenport Sporting Goods sponsors prizes for Derby winners. The Trout Lodge of Moses Lake is the hatchery from where Bob acquires the fish to be stocked in the creek and each year, they donate several very large trout. 

This endeavor has been a phenomenal example of community effort. From one man’s idea to assist the youth of Davenport in experiencing a more enjoyable summer break, to the pulling together of townspeople and business and groups to make the idea happen, it has truly taken the village to band together for the greater good of its members.