Clarksville, TN – Despite hot weather, 215 kids descended on the Liberty Park Saturday, June 11th for the annual Youth Fishing Rodeo held by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) in partnership with the Clarksville Parks and Recreation Department. The event gives the youth of Clarksville an opportunity to enjoy a day of free fishing.
“Today is our annual free fishing day here with the Clarksville Parks and Recreation Department. This is our 14th year of coming out and offering this event for kids 16 years and younger,” stated TWRA officer Jereme Odom.For Free Fishing Day, the TWRA stocks lakes across the state with fish, and invites the public to bring out their children in the hope that these events will instill a love of the outdoors in them. The Liberty Park pond was stocked with catfish earlier in the week.
Along with the free fishing, there was free hotdogs, watermelon, drinks, etc, available.
“Today we have the fishing rodeo going that is brought to you by the TWRA. Clarksville Parks and Recreation assists TWRA by making sure the park stays secure the week leading up to the event. We help make sure they can deposit all the fish throughout the week. They put in around 1500 pounds of fish. The fish were put in a few days before the event to help the fish get use to the water,” said Robert Rayburn, Clarksville Parks and Recreation Event Planning Supervisor.
140 boys and 75 girls surrounded the fishing pond at Liberty Park having a great time outdoors. Some of the kids have been coming to this event for years. For others, it was their first time at the event and for some, their first time fishing.
“I love this event. It gets the kids and family outside together. This is our fourth year coming to the fishing rodeo. Today was the first time my daughter Kyra has ever caught a fish. It was so exciting,” said Angie Kelley.
While the weather was hot, it did not stop the kids from having a blast Saturday.
“This event is to help introduce kids to fishing. When I was growing up, I went fishing with my parents but I would fish a little while but it was more about my parents fishing and I was just along for the ride,” said Odom. “This morning is all about the kids. It’s just for the kids and to introduce them to fishing and how much fun you can have. Give them a bunch of prize, free food and stuff. Let them go throw in a line.”
Prizes were awarded for the biggest and smallest fish caught and the biggest creel (most weight caught) by boy and girl, as well as a variety of door prize drawings.
Prizes included gift certificates, as well as fishing equipment, outdoor chairs, basketballs, soccer balls and other sporting-goods.
Raymond Pardo, age 9, caught the smallest fish at 0.02lbs. Female most weight was won by 10 year old Mary Russell with 7.31lbs. 4 year old Cayden McElroy had the most weight for a male with 9.19lbs. Sarah McLaughlin, age 15, had the biggest fish at 5.33lbs.
“I am so excited for Cayden. It was his first time fishing,” stated Heather McElroy. “I think this is a wonderful event for the community.”
“I had super fun catching all those fish,” said Cayden McElroy.
This year’s sponsors include Grandpa’s Outdoors, Walmart and numerous others.
“The event went really good today. We caught a lot of fish. It is very warm out here today but it seems most of the kids had a really good time,” said Odom.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency provides the free day in hopes of increasing interest in fishing. The day allows anyone the opportunity to try this great outdoor sport, especially children. In addition, children ages 15 and younger may fish without a license beginning on Free Fishing Day through the following Friday (June 17th).