By JB Clark
TUPELO – When Leigh Ann Mattox arrived at the Veterans Park fishing pond Saturday morning at 7:15, she said 100 parents and kids were waiting, fishing gear in had, to begin casting for catfish.
By 10 a.m., almost every spare foot of bank around the northern half of the stocked pond was occupied by a family fishing.
With perfect weather and a good turnout, the fish started biting early, said Mattox, recreation director for Tupelo Parks and Recreation.
“We kicked off at nine and people started catching fish right away,” she said.
Almost 300 children registered for the rodeo Saturday morning.
Kegan Graham, 8, said he caught a catfish early and then had another snap his line.
“It pulled my line and then bent my pole. I got him to here,” he said, pointing a foot from the shore. “And could see him but he broke the line.”
Kegan said the catfish was strong and put up a good fight.
Paul Robinson, 10, was fishing for the first time. He said he and his friend Mason Dunn, 9, hadn’t caught anything an hour into their efforts, but Mason, who has fished before, was confident they would before they left.
“Everyone always looks forward to the rodeo,” Mattox said. “We have a beautiful day with everyone outside. It’s going great.”
When the pond was stocked, about 30 catfish were fitted with a yellow tag and Mattox said nine had been caught early in the morning. Kids who caught tagged fish won prizes from Tupelo Parks and Recreation and Clay’s Bait and Tackle.
Bishop’s Barbecue provided a free lunch for everyone.
The annual event is a way for children, 15 and under, to get outside and enjoy fishing with their families.